Former NFL kicker Jay Feely posted a photo of himself holding a pistol while standing between his daughter and her prom date on Saturday, amusing some people with the joke but angering many others.
The photo shows him standing with his arm around his daughter and with the gun in his other hand, next to his daughter's date. Some people thought he crossed a line.
"Oh yay - American dads have kicked off the season of 'let's pretend I'm going to shoot my daughter's date for ... impugning her chastity' pics," wrote Shannon Watts, founder of gun reform group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Others noted that the joke comes months after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida.
But some of Feely's defenders saw it as a reference to "Bad Boys II," when Will Smith's character waves a gun in the face of a boy who's taking out the daughter of Martin Lawrence's character. Feely retweeted a gif of the moment posted by Howard University assistant football coach Cato June, a former NFL player himself.
After the backlash to his Twitter post, Feely clarified that the photo was intended to be a joke. He wrote that the couple, who have dated for over a year, knew he was joking.
"I take gun safety seriously (the gun was not loaded and had no clip in) and I did not intend to be insensitive to that important issue" of gun control, he said.
Feely's 14-year journeyman career took him to both the New York Giants and Jets and the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears.