NFL Network coverage focuses on social justice conversations

The sports world, much like America, remains at a crossroads. In the wake of a police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wis., several NFL teams opted to cancel practices Thursday as conversations surrounding social justice, race relations and reform continue. Thursday’s broadcast of Inside Training Camp LIVE features interviews with members of the NFL community and beyond to discuss the latest protests, including NBA players electing not to play in playoff games, and how to effect change.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who spoke out against institutional racism in May following the killing of George Floyd, joined the show and shared how he’s been impacted by seeing his Black teammates still suffering.

“To speak the obvious, I’ll never physically have to endure what maybe them or their families or their kids have to endure being a Black man in this country. I can’t fully relate to that same level. But I can show that I care, I can show that I have empathy, that I want to grow, I want to understand, I want to be, to some extent, part of the solution, whatever that looks like. Just trying to hear them out. The hardest part for me, honestly, is how much this hurts so many people. And how many heavy hearts there truly are. For me, I feel the same pain they feel when they go through these times. The sad reality is in this day and age, with cell phone cameras and all those things, is now we’re seeing these things on tape, but the sad reality is who knows how many things are and have been going on for years that aren’t caught on camera. There’s just so much unknown right now and my heart is heavy and I know a lot of guys in this locker room feel the same way.”

Dr. Harry Edwards, a sociologist and civil rights activist for more than 50 years, discussed what measures sports figures can take beyond protesting.

“I’ve talked to the players in the NBA, I’ve talked to coaches, I’ve even talked to a couple owners in the NBA trying to get everybody on the same page. Ultimately what it comes down to is leveraging the power, economically, politically and so forth that you have as a league, as players, to actually compel change. If an NBA owner picks up the telephone in his state and calls the governor, the governor is going to pick up. If Steph Curry and Draymond Green walk into the mayor’s office, the mayor is going to be there. It’s not like just another activist group trying to do something about the 147 Black men, women and children unarmed who are shot down on the cover of the badge every year in this country since 1968. They have a tremendous platform, they have the spotlight now, they have substantial power. The thing is going to be how do we get owners, players, sponsors, everybody on the same page, leveraging sports as a way of generating change, as a way of moving from protest to progress.”

(Watch the full interview below.)

Morehouse College professor David Wall Rice commended teams and athletes for breaking from their scheduled games and practices to take a stance against systemic racism.

“It’s encouraging. Because I think that what becomes so important in spaces like this is that platforms are used and leveraged. What we’re dealing with is something that’s, you hear this conversation of why is this continuing to happen to us? It really is that it hasn’t stopped. What we’re talking about is not even just social justice. We’re talking about basic fundamental humanity and we’re talking about racial violence that’s visited on people of color and people who are understood as being in the margins. We know that much of the sports world is comprised by people who are defined as such, so seeing athletes and seeing folks who are suing their pulpit to exert accountability of the community, the larger community that we belong to, is encouraging and important. The thing that I resonate with is how important it is to be vocal in this moment and how is it that we’re going to amplify our platform so that there is some type of systemic change to the systemic racism that we experience.”

(Watch the full interview below.)

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