As protests continue across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody, NFL players from around the league are speaking out on racism, police brutality and vowing to help enact change.
Not all players have been in lockstep, though. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew widespread criticism Wednesday for saying he still believed players kneeling during the anthem was "disrespecting the flag." Many players including some of Brees' teammates and 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman called out the quarterback for his tone-deaf remarks. Brees apologized Thursday morning for "missing the mark" with his comments.
Sherman, who is one of the most respected players across the NFL, doesn't think Floyd's death and public cries for change will alter the way race and racism is talked about in NFL locker rooms.
"I don't think it will be much different," Sherman told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report. "The locker room is different from society in that we are able to have conversations out of a place of respect, more times than not, because the stereotypes of society have usually been removed, or faded by the time people get to the NFL. You learn to at least respect your teammate regardless of race, and come to have a genuine love and appreciation [for your teammate].
"Much different than society, where stereotypes dictate behavior."
Sherman said Brees was "beyond lost" with his comments about kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism. He also told NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry that the "majority didn't want to hear" the message that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was trying to send when he started his peaceful protest in 2016.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black male, died in Minneapolis police custody after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while three other officers watched. Video showed Floyd telling the officers he couldn't breathe but Chauvin didn't relent. It was later announced Floyd died in police custody.
After widespread protests, Chauvin was arrested Friday. He's charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, were arrested Wednesday and are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
The second-degree charge against Chauvin carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
While Brees' comments showed he's part of America's problem and not the solution, a number of other white quarterbacks have spoken out and vowed to help make change. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr vowed to stop "sticking to sports" as he tries to unite people.
Sherman's comments about the difference between NFL locker rooms and society were shown Wednesday when Saints defensive lineman Cameron Jordan said he spoke with Brees after his comments and asked him to "walk a mile in my shoes."
"In our locker room, we hold people accountable," Jordan told NFL Media's Mike Silver. "I've already talked to 10 to 12 teammates, and a coach or two, and with the man himself (Brees). You have to put him legitimately in our shoes, and at the same time, I don't want to force-feed him. I want to walk in his shoes, too. [The national anthem] is a source of pride for him. But he has to know what that act is all about, and what it really represents.
"Things have to be talked about," Jordan later continued. "If I'm not my brother's keeper, I'm doing a disservice to him and to our teammates."
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