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Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan lead teams in coming together for collaborative protest

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Weeks before the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons met on the gridiron for the first game of the 2020 NFL season, two of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks had conversations on how they would approach protests of social injustice.

Teams across the NFL chose to remain in the locker room or stand arm-in-arm in the endzone, but Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan organized a gesture for their respective teams that stood out from the rest.

“We had initial discussions as a team about what we wanted to do in terms of making our voices heard heading in to the first game,” Ryan said after the game. “Russ reached out to me I guess about a week and a half before the game and we got in touch the weekend before the game just to get a temperature for what each team was feeling and to kind of let everybody’s voices be heard. I guess both teams came to the collaboration of taking a knee after the first kickoff. I felt good about that. We were excited to try and voice our want for change and to make a difference. It was a good collaboration and I appreciate the candor and discussions that we had back and forth with the Seahawks...

I think their team is doing a great job in their community as well. I think we are trying to do a great job with our team.

Matt Ryan on Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Players from both teams joined forces to kneel in protest of social injustice after Seattle’s Jason Myers kicked off. Atlanta neglected to return the kick and all 22 players on the Mercedes Benz turf took a knee in solidarity.

Following the game, the two QBs met midfield and agreed to continue their conversations past Week 1. 

 

“Good luck the rest of the way,” Ryan said. “Appreciate the conversations and stuff.”

Wilson responded, “Let’s keep talking, too. Let’s not give up any. Let’s make a difference in the world. You know what I’m saying?”

The two future Hall of Famers’ message was resounding: What is going on in the world right now is bigger than football. The conversations must continue.

Wilson’s tone was similar to how Seattle has run its team meetings since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and as nationwide protests sparked across America. The Seahawks began having conversations with their players about their past experiences, racism, racial injustice, and police brutality.  

As the Seahawks continue to have conversations about how to create change and what to do next, Wilson has made it clear the time to act is now.

"We don't have weeks, we don't have months, we don't have years to change it, we've got to all do it together, and we've got to do it now,” Wilson said in late August. “We need change now. We need people to make a difference now, and we're calling on people like yourselves to help us along the way too."

[Listen to the latest Talking' Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and guest Chris Simms!]