Dolphins coach Brian Flores has become the first NFL coach to issue a statement on the murder of George Floyd. And it is a powerful one.
The statement, provided to ESPN.com, points out the inconsistency between those who have loud opinions on issues like Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest and devices for incentivizing the hiring of minority coaches but who remain quiet, relatively speaking, on the killing of African-Americans by police.
“I’ve had the privilege of being a part of many different circles that have included some very powerful and influential people of all different races and genders,” Flores said. “The events of the last few weeks have brought some of the memories of those conversations back to light. I vividly remember the Colin Kaepernick conversations. ‘Don’t ever disrespect the flag’ was the phrase that I heard over and over again. This idea that players were kneeling in support of social justice was something some people couldn’t wrap their head around. The outrage that I saw in the media and the anger I felt in some of my own private conversations caused me to sever a few long-standing friendships.
“Most recently, I’ve had conversations about incentivizing teams for hiring minorities. Again, there was some outrage in the media and talks that this would cause division amongst coaches, executives and ownership. I bring these situations up because I haven’t seen the same OUTRAGE from people of influence when the conversation turns to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and most recently George Floyd. Many people who broadcast their opinions on kneeling or on the hiring of minorities don’t seem to have an opinion on the recent murders of these young black men and women. I think many of them QUIETLY say that watching George Floyd plead for help is one of the more horrible things they have seen, but it’s said amongst themselves where no one can hear. Broadcasting THAT opinion clearly is not important enough.
“I lead a group of young men who have the potential to make a real impact in this world. My message to them and anyone else who wants to listen is that honesty, transparency, and empathy go a long way in bringing people together and making change. I hope that the tragedies of the last few weeks will open our hearts and minds to a better way of communicating and hopefully create that change.”
Change definitely is needed. The decision of the coach of an NFL team to issue such a strong and heartfelt statement underscores that the time has come for reform, for better training, for more prudent use of lethal force by law enforcement.
If the murder of George Floyd doesn’t spark that change, what will? Here’s hoping that influential voices in the NFL and other aspects of society continue to call for change, ignoring the stick-to-sportsters who presumably (and inexplicably) prefer the status quo.