Several members of the Baltimore Ravens organization participated in a video posted on social media Friday in which they discussed the need for change and unity in America. Among the participants were owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh, 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Calais Campbell and retired general manager and Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome.
Football has taken a back seat to conversations on social justice in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The Ravens announced last week they and the Stephen & Renee Bisciotti Foundation have committed funds to support social justice reform throughout the Baltimore community.
In hopes of this turbulent time becoming a watershed moment for America, Baltimore players and staff offered their perspectives on what needs to change and how it can happen.
Below are some of the poignant messages from the video:
"I saw the Ahmaud Arbery video seven or 10 days, I believe, before George Floyd. Like most of you I'm sure watching those videos shook you and shook me to my core. It made me sick and it made me angry. It was the most despicable thing I had ever seen.
"I'm lucky enough through my ownership of this wonderful franchise to have gotten close enough to these young men to see and hear their hurt. And all they're asking for right now is to be heard. And I want to ask you individually, are you willing to listen? I don't think I've grown by seeing their anger. I think I've grown by feeling their hurt. And these young men are hurting. ...
"To say stick to sports is the worst possible thing that you can feel and say. If my players, both white and black, don't speak out about his injustice to their communities, then they're considered sellouts or hypocrites. If I don't defend my players, then I'm the worst kind of hypocrite. ...
"Ask the questions, ask the uncomfortable questions, and you will come to the conclusion, I hope that I have, that you don't feel it enough and you don't live it enough if you're not willing to say it: Black lives matter."
Quarterback Robert Griffin III:
"America was founded on liberty and justice for all, not liberty and justice for some. For far too long we have turned blind eye to racism, discrimination and the mistreatment of people of color in this country while we send troops around the world every day to help other countries eliminate those same issues."
"The concept of America from the Founding Fathers is beautiful. The ideal of it is beautiful. But it's something that not a lot of black people have experienced in our history."
"I feel like we all need to come together, learn from one another, because I feel the world will be more peaceful. You never know what you could learn from one another."
"Black lives matter in all places, not just stadiums, gyms and ballparks. I grew up in Alabama in the 60s and the 70s. I saw segregation, integration and racism. I saw water fountains for white only, and another for colored people only. America has made strides, but we have a long ways to go to secure victory."
Kicker Justin Tucker:
"As a white person, it's incredibly important for me to listen and to learn. I recognize that I will never fully understand what it feels like to be a black person in America. I also recognize that because of this system in which we currently exist, the color of my skin has largely afforded me the ability to not have to think about things that adversely affect people of color."
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams:
"It's OK to not be scared if a cop is behind you, that's the future I want for my kid. When a cop's behind me I don't want to feel scared. I want to tell my kid you don't have to be ashamed of the color of your skin. You are special and you are a black man, a black woman, and you are beautiful and you are loved."
Team head of security Darren Sanders:
"Until those who are not oppressed and those who do not face systemic racism come to the aid or defense of us as people of color, the ones that are oppressed and face systemic racism on a daily basis, there can truly be no justice in this country."
Long snapper Morgan Cox:
"No one should have to live in fear in this country. My black brothers and sisters are hurting. My responsibility is to help them in every way that I can."
Tight end Mark Andrews:
"I want to help be the change, I want to help enact change for my brothers, the people that I care about, people I call family. It's gone on far too long and I want you guys to know that I'm with you, that I stand for you and I'm here for you."
Wide receiver Willie Snead:
"I have faith that as a country we will come together. Black and white, we will come together and we will shape this America into the America that we would want our kids to live in."
"We're the generation that can redeem the ideals of our country, make America what it was meant to be. I believe we will do it. The time to do it is now."