Race In America

Prior career as a police officer shapes Mike London's view on law enforcement

Prior career as a police officer shapes Mike London's view on law enforcement

Over the last month, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.

NBC Sports Washington is launching the third part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America. This week, Mike London joined Chris Miller, Robert Griffin III and Calais Campbell for the last of three roundtable discussions to share his experiences, thoughts and how he’s using all platforms in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.

William & Mary head coach Mike London is well known around local football circles, having spent time coaching at Virginia, Richmond, Howard and Maryland before coming back to lead the football program in Williamsburg. What many may not know is that London actually had a previous career in law enforcement before putting on the headset.

The 59-year-old coach spent time with the Richmond Police Department as a detective before entering the coaching ranks. In the latest ‘Race in America’ roundtable, Chris Miller presented London with several racial disparity statistics in regards to traffic stops in the Washington, D.C. area, and the head coach took a deeper look into why that may be happening.

“What’s obvious is the color disparity, the race disparity,” London said. “In order to make city governments functional, traffic citations, summons, things that are issued also raise the revenue for the surrounding city and surrounding areas.”

RACE IN AMERICA: WATCH MIKE LONDON, ROBERT GRIFFIN III AND CALAIS CAMPBELL’S FULL DISCUSSION

Those comments sparked questions from another panel participant, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III, who wanted to know if those facts were a part of “systemic oppression of African-American communities.”

“You’re right,” London said. “There’s levels that lead up to levels that then continue on, that you get into a debt cycle that is hard to escape.”

Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell, the 2019 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year winner for his work in the community, then asked London to draw on his police experience to answer the “big question” of whether or not the system is broken.

“The reallocation of the funding, or the importance of some of the things when you do see such a large law enforcement presence in communities or situations that you can change by just your action and interaction.”

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Ravens QB Robert Griffin III on overcoming stereotypes facing Black NFL quarterbacks

Ravens QB Robert Griffin III on overcoming stereotypes facing Black NFL quarterbacks

Over the last month, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.

NBC Sports Washington is launching the third part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America. This week, Robert Griffin III joined Chris Miller along with Baltimore Ravens teammate Calais Campbell and William & Mary football head coach Mike London for the last of three roundtable discussions to share his experiences, thoughts and how he’s using all platforms in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.

Back in 2012, all eyes were squarely on Robert Griffin III as he made his much-hyped jump to the NFL. Flashbulbs went off as Griffin (wearing burgundy and gold socks) walked the red carpet at Radio City Music Hall in New York City before being selected 2nd overall by Washington, a team that dealt multiple future first-round picks to move up and select him.

Yes, he entered the league as a Heisman Trophy winner from a football powerhouse at Baylor, but still questions surrounded Griffin as began his professional career. Those questions lingered despite an incredibly successful debut season that saw him win NFL Rookie of the Year honors and lead Washington to an NFC East title.

Race has always been a topic Griffin has had to address, dating all the way back to 2012 when he told reporters, “I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don't have to be defined by that.”

On ‘Race in America,’ a panel hosted by NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller, Griffin joined fellow Raven Calais Campbell and William & Mary football coach Mike London to continue that same conversation that has followed him his entire career.

“Sometimes as an African-American quarterback I think to myself, ‘Man, what if I was white,” Griffin said. “What if I didn’t have to deal with some of the stereotypes that come with being an African-American quarterback?”

RACE IN AMERICA: WATCH THE FULL ROUNDTABLE HERE

Griffin threw for over 4,200 yards and completed over 72% of his passes during his 2011 Heisman campaign. He followed that up by throwing 20 TD compared to just 5 INT in his rookie season. Still, the questions and criticism persisted.

“When you’re able to go out and put up the type of numbers that I was in college and also in the pros, that doesn’t lead to someone saying those things about you if you’re a white quarterback,” Griffin said. “As an African-American quarterback, you don’t really get the benefit of the doubt in those situations.”

Griffin has taken advantage of his platform and social reach to point out the constant struggle, not only for Black professional athletes, but the entire Black community. He recently posted “Sometimes we just wish we wouldn’t have to defend ourselves against racism and prejudice from the second we wake up,” a tweet he expounded upon during the ‘Race in America’ roundtable.

“When you talk about someone who’s just waking up not in the NFL, every time they step out the door as an African-American male they’re deemed a threat to society,” Griffin said.

“Video after video after video after video of people of color being mistreated, some old some new, you just wonder like, ‘Man, is there ever going to be a time where we can wake up and not have to be subjected to that type of treatment, that type of profiling, from the second we literally open our eyes.”

To watch the full roundtable discussion, featuring Griffin, Calais Campbell and Mike London, click here.

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D.C. United's Bill Hamid explains how Black Players for Change seeks to improve soccer

D.C. United's Bill Hamid explains how Black Players for Change seeks to improve soccer

Over the last month, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.

NBC Sports Washington is launching the second part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America. This week, Bill Hamid, Renaldo Wynn and Ish Smith joined Chis Miller for the second of these roundtable discussions to share their experiences, thoughts and how they’re using their platforms in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.

Nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd have been necessary to light a fire under people in positions to make necessary changes to combat racial injustices.

Since the protests began nearly two months ago, no area of society has gone untouched by the current social justice movement, including sports. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its races, and drivers stood behind Bubba Wallace in unprecedented fashion after a noose-like rope was found in his garage. The NBA dedicated the rest of its season to shed light on racial injustices. And the NFL pledged a $250 million donation to help in the fight.

In soccer, Black MLS players took it into their own hands to create the change they wanted to see. Following Floyd’s death, over 70 players, including D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid created the Black Players Coalition of MLS, which has since been renamed Black Players for Change. 

Hamid talked about why the coalition was necessary on “Race in America,” a panel hosted by NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, where he was also joined by Wizards guard Ish Smith and former Washington defensive end Renaldo Wynn. He said the group's mission is to make a difference in inner-cities, whether it be with fees for kids to play soccer, childhood obesity, or mass incarceration.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the opportunity to speak about what would make a difference for us, what would help the Black player coming out of university or coming out of high school,” Hamid said. “How do we get into the inner city and into their cities and really make a difference? There’s not much of that going on, and we’ve seen that for a while, we’ve seen that for a long time. And a few of us came together and we said we need to start this. This is our opportunity.”

RACE IN AMERICA: WATCH BILL HAMID, ISH SMITH & RENALDO WYNN'S FULL DISCUSSION

Hamid said every single Black player in Major League Soccer is part of the group, which recently announced a partnership with the Players Coalition headed by the NFL’s Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins.

“I mean, the talks that we have, the Zoom calls that we put together, the insight from the oldest Black player in Major League Soccer to the very youngest, just giving everybody a voice to speak. What do we want to do? What changes do we want to make? It’s been one of the most powerful things I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Hamid said.

Black Players for Change gives MLS an opportunity to be at the forefront of creating equality in a sport that has struggled to eliminate racism. Particularly in European leagues, Hamid said it’s an ongoing battle.

“Soccer has a lot of systemic racial issues going on, whether it be with agents, agencies, contracts dealing with a player of color, it’s tough,” Hamid said. “Fortunately, I’ve played most of my career in Washington, D.C., for D.C. United, so I haven’t seen too much racial bias, but I would say for a lot of other players and a lot of other leagues, bigger countries too, and they go to the countries to go with their family, and they’re the ultimate idea of the minority. So, the fan bases and the ultras, as they call them in soccer, I mean, from monkey chains to throwing bananas on the field -- that’s one of the more popular things that we’ve seen in European football -- bananas being thrown on the field from the fans. And players have been so emotional in the middle of games that they have to walk off the field."

Hamid said FIFA’s “Say No to Racism” campaign is an attempt to rid the sport of such hateful acts, but as is the case in America and around the world, there’s so much more work to be done.

“For some reason, it just hasn’t subsided. So, it’s an ongoing fight,” Hamid said. “Especially in soccer, it’s an ongoing fight. It’s a predominantly caucasian sport, and we still have to break through a lot of barriers as players of color. But that’s a fight that we’ve taken by starting the Black Players Coalition.”

You can watch the full panel by clicking here.

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