He said it was just a joke.
The gun in the hands of Jay Feely — a former NFL kicker who for years played for the Miami Dolphins — as he posed for a photo with his daughter and her prom date over the weekend was no big deal.
In the memorable portrait, his daughter, donning a delicate peach maxi dress as blonde curls dangle off her face, is wrapped in his left arm. She semi-smiles at her dad; his serious glare is accompanied by focused eyes and slightly-crunched eyebrows.
In his right hand? A handgun. The weapon is held next to the teen's prom date in a black suit and pink tie, who smirks at the camera.
The caption: "Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a great time at prom. #BadBoys."
The response on Twitter was so strong, it was shared more than 14,000 times.
Some thought the post was insensitive and irresponsible: "Shame on you. You are NOT a responsible gun owner. Guns are not a joke. That is NOT funny. In front of children!!! Shame!!!" One person commented.
Others giggled and went about their day.
"Wow. I never knew that so many people were born without a sense of humor. Is it not perfectly clear that the picture is staged and that the boy is obviously in on it. Y’all really need to get a life," another person wrote.
On Sunday, Feely took to Twitter— again — only this time to apologize.
"The prom picture I posted was obviously intended to be a joke," he said. "My Daughter has dated her boyfriend for over a year and they knew I 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."
Feely, 41, is currently a football analyst on CBS. He played for the NFL for about 14 years, where he played for teams like the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins.