Standing alongside his team's official mascot on Wednesday, Nashville Predators CEO Sean Henry endorsed Democrat David Briley in the city's upcoming mayoral election.
Henry said "we're supporting Mayor David Briley" in the video, effectively making a de facto endorsement of the progressive candidate on behalf of the Tennessee capital's NHL team.
"Hi, I’m Sean Henry, this is my good buddy Gnash," Henry said, pointing to the Predators' mascot to his right. "We want to remind all of ‘Smashville' that election day is May 24 for the mayoral race. Early polls are open through this Saturday, May 19. I want to encourage everyone to get out and vote. I also want to let everyone in Smashville know that we’re supporting Mayor David Briley, and we hope you join us in that as well. But regardless of who you vote for, get out and vote. Make your voice heard. Go Preds!"
"Smashville" is the nickname for the Predators' fan base.
There are 13 candidates for the mayoral race, which is technically nonpartisan. Briley became acting mayor of Nashville in March after Democrat Megan Barry resigned and pleaded guilty to felony theft, a charge related to an affair she had with her security detail chief.
Thanks to our friends @Gnash00 and @PREDSident and everyone over at the @PredsNHL for supporting Mayor Briley in the upcoming election! We invite all of #Smashville to join #TeamBriley on May 24. Polls are open now so make sure you get out and vote! pic.twitter.com/xv66yN727m
— Briley for Mayor (@brileyformayor) May 16, 2018
The Predators, one of two professional franchises in Nashville, are hugely popular and have been one of the NHL's most successful teams in recent years, reaching the Stanley Cup finals a year ago.
Henry told The Tennessean newspaper he was proud of the franchise's history of political activity, which has included its support for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as former Democratic Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. It's also supported former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D.), who's now running for U.S. Senate in Tennessee in a crucial race for the chamber's control.
"I'm glad we don't just stick to sports," Henry said. "I'm glad that we can leverage the attention that people have for our logo, to take things that we think are important moving forward."
He said the public response he'd gotten since supporting Briley had been half positive and half people saying, "Why would you ever do this?"
OutKick the Coverage writer and sports commentator Clay Travis railed against the team's decision on his website, calling it "insanely dumb" and a further politicization of sports.
"The Preds, who have done a tremendous job reaching out to everyone in the city of Nashville, blew it here and are setting an awful precedent for other teams," he wrote.