Jordyn Brooks knew his rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks would be an experience like no other.
The former Texas Tech linebacker went from being a surprise pick by the Seahawks in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft to joining his new team, and adapting to an unprecedented offseason due to COVID-19.
As he acclimated to his new reality as a pro, protests calling for an end to police brutality and racial injustice took place in cities across the country, seemingly becoming the new normal.
“At times, it gets a little bit difficult to focus on football when you see these things going on in everyday life, the police brutality, the things we’ve seen on Twitter with the ongoing issues that we see, people of color just getting shot in the streets," Brooks said ahead of Wednesday's practice.
The Seahawks first-round draft choice hopes to combat systemic racism. It’s a fight he takes to heart as a member of the Black community.
“I think that’s been the biggest issue for me, me being a Black man,” Brooks said. “It’s something I kind of take personal, and something I feel obligated to talk about, something I feel obligated to help with.”
Brooks isn’t the only rookie who has felt disheartened by the recent shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake. America’s systemic issues have also weighed heavy on Seahawks fourth-round pick DeeJay Dallas.
“As far as everything that’s going on in America, sometimes it can become gloomy at times,” Dallas said. “Other times, I just try to find joy in my son and my fiancé – I try to focus the best that I can, and when problems do arise, that come up in our meetings with the team, I just try to deal with it then, and just talk to whoever I can talk to.”
As Brooks and Dallas shift their focus to football with the Seahawks first games less than two weeks away, expect NFL players to take tangible action to protest systemic racism once games begin.
After the Milwaukee Bucks halted their postseason game vs. the Orlando Magic in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility that NFL teams, including his own, might sit out games.
“Anything’s possible,” Carroll said following a recent Seahawks mock game. “I mentioned to the players this is the year — it’s the protest season. It’s the season of protesting. And we’ll handle ourselves as we do. This is a protest that doesn’t have an end to it until all the problems go away. And we solve the issues and stuff.
"So we’re gonna do our part and continue to work to stay actively involved, and continue to stay in touch with the situations that are going on, by staying on the topics and with it just in hopes that we can be there to help and support where we can and have influence where we can.”
Check out the latest Talkin' Seahawks podcast with Joe Fann and special guest Joel McHale