A number of key NFL figures have spoken out against systemic racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody.
Roger Goodell admitted he was wrong in not standing with the players who peacefully protested by kneeling during the national anthem -- although he didn't mention Colin Kaepernick -- and said he stands behind his players. Drew Brees apologized for his comments about players taking a knee during the anthem and made a public response to President Donald Trump telling him "we no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities."
While many have spoken out in support of the movement, there has been relative silence from many of the NFL's most notable owners, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. And 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman noted that silence from the owners speaks volumes, especially from Jones who rarely is afraid to voice his opinion.
"It's not pulling them like it is the rest of the country," Sherman told The San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch. "Because if it was, then they'd speak. Jerry Jones, especially, has no problem speaking up any other time about anything else. But when it's such a serious issue, and he could really make a huge impact on it with a few words, his silence speaks volumes."
Former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant wanted Jones to attend the protest in Austin on Sunday.
Somebody should have brought Jerry jones Stephen jones and Jason witten to this protest down in Austin......this is not a policy change this is a heart change and yea I said it— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) June 7, 2020
Bryant later clarified that his tweet was not meant to paint Jones in a bad light.
"I know Jerry's heart -- he's a compassionate person, and he's not a racist," Bryant told Sports Illustrated.
While Jones hasn't spoken out, a few owners have and 49ers CEO Jed York donated $1 million to organizations fighting for social justice.
"Any time you see heinous acts, you have to be able to call them out," York told NFL Media's Jim Trotter. "But in terms of the pledge, I think it's very important that actions and words need to go together if you're going to facilitate change in America, and that's what we wanted to do."
Sherman commended York, coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch for what they have addressed the issue of racism in America with the players and listened to them about how they can all help to enact change.
"They’ve done a great job of just making sure that our players understand that we can have these conversations,” Sherman told Branch. “We can start to try to find ways to tear down those walls and create more progress and more change.
" ... They were talking to us about how we can really put that ($1 million) to use in different ways. Whether it’s a forum. Or going out in the community and educating people. Or flying to different places and doing that. They want to really invoke change. And they’re really passionate about it. So it’s been a cool discussion to be a part of.”
Sherman has been impressed by the number of white quarterbacks who have spoken out and vowed to help create change and be an ally of the black community. Carson Wentz, Joe Burrow and Ryan Tannehill were among the first to speak out along with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who vowed to no longer stick to sports as he tries to unite people.
Protests against systemic racism and police brutality have sprung up nationwide after a video showed Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man die in police custody with Derek Chauvin, a white officer, kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes. Video showed Floyd telling Chauvin and the three other officers watching that he couldn't breathe, but Chauvin didn't relent and it was later announced Floyd died in police custody.
Chauvin was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the other three were charged with aiding and abetting on both counts.
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