Last Thursday, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz posted a message online speaking out against institutional racism in the United States after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis last Monday night by a police officer in an incident caught on camera. The officer kneeled on his neck for an extended period of time while Floyd was handcuffed.
Wentz speaking up - saying that "institutional racism in this country breaks my heart and needs to stop" - was an unusual move for the quarterback, who normally avoided discussing anything societal during his first four seasons with the Eagles.
But his decision to break that trend was felt around Philadelphia and nationally, and a number of other white players, including the Eagles' Zach Ertz, echoed his sentiments in the following days.
And Wentz's message apparently earned him some serious respect from veteran San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.
Sherman spoke with Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer over the weekend, and had good things to say:
First, Eagles QB Carson Wentz said something. Then Bengals QB Joe Burrow said something. So too did Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and new Cowboys QB Andy Dalton. All those guys are white, and all could’ve kept quiet in the face of something like this, like quarterbacks routinely have in the past. But they didn’t.
As to the importance of that, I didn’t even have to ask Sherman to go there. He went on his own, volunteering his feelings on the gravity of their words.
'I’m impressed with the white QBs speaking up because those are voices that carry different weight than the black voices for some people,' Sherman said. 'Which means the people who refuse to listen to a black athlete’s perspective will hear the same thing said from a white athlete, but receive the message much differently. So it’s awesome that more people are speaking out, because in sports, you really have a love and appreciation for your fellow man, regardless of race.
'And I think that’s what makes sports and teams so special, because a lot of the stereotypes are torn down. You really get to know one another, not judge based off nonsense.'
On the football field, Sherman and Wentz have faced off just once since Wentz entered the league in 2016, a 26-15 Seahawks win in Week 10 of Wentz's rookie year. Sherman intercepted Wentz in the third quarter.
But off the field, it seems the two have plenty of common ground in the fight for justice and equality.
The Eagles and 49ers are scheduled to play on Oct. 4, the Sunday Night Football game for Week 4, this season.
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