Like every team in the NFL, the Browns are grappling with how to use their platform to create societal change.
And General Manager Andrew Berry is determined not to waste the moment.
In a look at Berry’s actions in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Kimberley Martin of ESPN outlined the steps Berry is taking to raise awareness and encourage movement in the organization.
The day of Floyd’s funeral, Berry led a contingent of Browns employees to the grave of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old who was killed by police in Cleveland. That group included coach Kevin Stefanski and others, and followed a letter Berry sent to staff, which served as a challenge.
He said he’d donate $8,460 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to honor Floyd and other victims of racial violence, if 50 Browns employees did one of three things: Spend at least 8 minutes and 46 seconds on one of the movies, documentaries or podcasts he attached and submit a reflection on them, sign up for a social activism initiative, or donate to a social activism cause.
“We got more than 50 on the first day,” Berry said. “That’s what was most touching: just how quickly and aggressively the people that we work with on a daily basis engaged on this matter.”
He said approximately 70 employees had answered the call, and raised more than $160,000 so far. Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam offered to match all employee contributions.
Now, he’s hoping to expand the challenge to fans, posting the same resources to the team website.
“It’s more that I want to see tangible, meaningful action around this cause because I think it’s the right thing to do,” Berry said. “The thing that struck me is, we’ve had a number of these types of incidents over our history, and certainly within recent history.
“And I think the emotion, the passion, the things that people are feeling now — at some point, the emotion is going to wane some. At least nationally. And the important part is being able to channel that energy into something that’s productive and actionable so that all of these tragedies don’t happen in vain.”
And he’s doing his part to make sure his organization follows through on the words and the emotions.