The Packers offensive line didn’t discuss blocking assignments or other football matters when they gathered online for last week’s meetings.
As with many other meetings around the league, the focus for the Packers linemen was to provide time and space for players to discuss their experiences with racism. Black players like guard Billy Turner, tackle Yosh Nijman and guard Elgton Jenkins shared with white teammates in sessions that Turner said were smooth because of the closeness of the group.
“There was no nervousness,” Turner said, via Olivia Reiner of PackersNews.com. “There was no thought that the conversation would go in a negative way by any means because I’m fairly close with a lot of the guys in the room. I know their personalities and I know the things that they enjoy, the things that they find passion in. Just getting to know those guys over the past year, it’s very evident to me that they care about other people. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin. It doesn’t matter where you come from. We’re all part of one team and one organization.”
The content flowed both ways as offensive line coach Adam Stenavich shared his experience growing up in a part of Wisconsin without much diversity and how he had to adjust once he got to college.
“When I was listening to him speak, I’m trying to put myself in his shoes,” Nijman said. “We’re trying to understand where he was coming from because his story is also important. Although a lot of other African American people will say well, our story is the most important, which I do believe, but as a people though, everyone should try to put each other in each other’s shoes.”
Listening to others has been a popular and significant piece of advice over the last couple of weeks. It will continue to be important as the NFL and the country as a whole move forward with an eye on tackling some of the problems that have plagued the United States for years.