The Seattle Seahawks have long been a mecca for outspoken players, activism and charity, and strong campaigns for social justice reform.
Long before the ongoing protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death took place, former Seahawks like Richard Sherman were speaking out against police brutality.
“Whether they’re taking a knee or whether they’re locking arms, they’re trying to bring people together and unite them for a cause," Sherman said in 2016.
“More videos have come out of guys getting killed, and I think people are still missing the point. The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we’re locking arms is to bring people together to make people aware that this is not right. It’s not right for people to get killed in the street.”
Then Michael Bennett began taking social action to new heights, electing to sit on the bench during the national anthem.
"I can't stand for the national anthem," Bennett said in 2017. "I can't stand right now. I'm not going to be standing until I see the equality and freedom."
We won’t back away
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows conversations around social and racial turmoil have been going on in Seattle’s locker room for years, and he doesn’t want them to stop.
While wearing a black shirt with the word "EQUALITY," across the front, Carroll told Seth Meyers of Late Night with Seth Meyers "we're talking life now."
"Whether it’s dealing with the mentality of the pandemic and the COVID thing, that’s about mindset and we’re gonna be working hard at that, but what’s coming out of here is way more in terms of equality, in terms of injustice that we see everywhere," Carroll said. "We have just dived right into it with our players, as we always have, but even more so with a greater concern and a greater focus than ever. I think that’s a really good thing for us, as we have to make progress here.
We’re just going to continue to keep it on the front of our minds and keep talkin’ it, and keep sharing our ideas, sharing our stories and communicating with everybody and making sure that we don’t back away or lose sight from the fact that we have a lot to do here. -- Pete Carroll
Preparing for the most unusual season in league history
Carroll, in his 10 years as Seattle’s head coach, has never had to deal with a season like this one. From COVID-19 and activism to whether the NFL is able to start and complete a full season with numerous hurdles.
But the Super Bowl winning head coach believes the league could be positioned in a truly unique space to capture an even more monumental audience. He wants his players voice to be heard.
Our players are extraordinary. The messaging that they can send out, what they stand for, what they’ve been through, how they can teach. They’re a remarkable group and we need them to make sure & stay vigilant because this is something that isn’t going away. This is a lifetime commitment, I think of turning things and we’re gonna do it by caring for people, caring for one another, and showing how important it is to see and hear and feel everybody around us.
We’re looking forward to the challenge of that. It’s going to be a remarkable season, a remarkable year in so many ways, that we’ve got to take the challenge and do well with it. -- Pete Carroll
Seahawks doing their part
Bobby Wagner has attended Seattle-area protests and rebuked statements made by President Trump, Russell Wilson said he fears for the lives of his children, DK Metcalf urged the Black community to stick together and Duane Brown referenced George Floyd’s killing, calling it “an awful situation – that could have been prevented.”
And Carroll? He marched across the I-90 bridge alongside the wives of Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright demanding racial equality and the end of police brutality.
The Seahawks also released a statement stating the “Seahawks family is dismayed by the unacceptable act of violence that occurred against George Floyd last week.”
The statement included a pledge that the Seahawks will distribute $500,000 in grants from the Seahawks Players Equality & Justice For All Action Fund with the hope of advancing conversations related to reformation in policies regarding hiring and training within law enforcement and for advanced education related to the history of race in America.
As the NFL prepares for its return, expect the Seahawks to be one of the league’s teams at the forefront of ongoing social activism.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and special guest Gregg Bell to dissect the Seahawks offseason].