The Carolina Panthers cut Marcus Ball after he played his first and only game for the team in September of 2016. In light of recent allegations made against Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Ball says he thinks his release wasn’t due to anything he did during the course of the game.

“Before kickoff, they played the national anthem, as they always do,” Ball wrote, while recounting his release in Sports Illustrated essay. “I stood. I honored the flag. I prayed. I sang. But I also acknowledged the protests and recent events that had been building around the country and recently in Charlotte. (That very week, a black man had been fatally shot by a police officer in the city.) During the anthem, I made a gesture, holding up my right hand with my index finger pointing toward the sky to God.”

Ball’s gesture received some national coverage after the game. USA Today and the Gaston Gazette reported reported on the matter, confirming that Ball’s only response to reporters were the words, “One love.”

An ESPN report addressing a potential team gesture by the Panthers appeared to frame the reception of Ball’s gesture differently.

“Fellow safety Marcus Ball held up his right fist with his index finger extended during the anthem,” ESPN’s David Newton reported. “When asked repeatedly about his gesture after the game, Ball said only, ‘One love.’”

In the same report, then fellow Panthers safety Tre Boston, also addressed the issue of a gesture during the national anthem to bring awareness to injustices against the black community.

“A lot of us talked,” Boston said. “We couldn’t get it through to everybody. It was a little disappointing. But I know we’re trying to do it the right way.”

Were you implying it was disappointing that not everyone was on board with a protest, rather than Ball's decision to protest?

— 🎆🍾 Happy Coleman Byrd 🍾🎆 (@ColinCLT) September 26, 2016

Exactly, I wanted everybody to be able to do one thing. I support everything about Balls OneLove gesture. We all need unity, peace, and love

— Tre Boston (@TreBos10) September 26, 2016

Boston would later tweet that his comments were not directed at Ball. The Panthers released Ball two days later. In May of 2017, Boston was also waived by the Panthers.

“I had my doubts,” Ball wrote in his Sports Illustrated essay. “I know Richardson didn’t want players following Colin Kaepernick’s lead and protesting. I knew he didn’t want players wearing dreadlocks, which I did. Same for sporting tattoos. But what could I do? I was a practice squad player. On my level, you don’t challenge the Boss Man.”

In December, the NFL took over an internal investigation of claims of various forms of misconduct by Richardson. The investigation was sparked by a Sports Illustrated report on various inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by Richardson, including Richardson directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout.

Richardson has declined to address the investigation but said he will sell the team at the conclusion of the Panthers season.

You can read Marcus Ball’s full essay via Sports Illustrated.