No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals called on the public to respond in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody Monday night.
Police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with third-degree murder of Floyd, an African American. Chauvin was also charged with manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.
“The black community needs our help. They have been unheard for far too long. Open your ears, listen, and speak. This isn’t politics. This is human rights,” said Burrow, who was raised in Athens, Ohio.
LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, Odell Beckham Jr. and a host of other professional athletes have expressed outrage in the aftermath of the incident, which prompted nights of looting and property damage in the Twin Cities.
Other prominent athletes have continued the call for players who aren’t minorities to speak out against police violence and racial injustice as Burrow, who hasn’t played a down as a professional, did on Friday.
“It’s time for guys like Tom Brady and Sidney Crosby and those type of figures to speak up about what is right and what, in this case, is unbelievably wrong,” Sharks forward Evander Kane said. “That’s the only way we’re going to create that unified anger to create that necessary change, especially when you talk about systematic racism.”
However, Brady did post an image of Floyd on Thursday with the hashtag JusticeForFloyd and a praying-hands emoji.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is among the favorites to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy and be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, also spoke out Friday.
“There has to be a shift in the way of thinking,” Lawrence said via Twitter. “Rational must outweigh irrational. Justice must outweigh injustice. Love must outweigh hate. If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and you don’t like how it feels — that’s when you know things need to change.”
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr also spoke out on social media.
“Anytime someone loses their life it’s a terrible thing especially when it could’ve been prevented,” Carr wrote on Twitter. “My opinions won’t make a difference on how that should’ve been handled better, but I do think my platform can be used to help. I don’t know what it’s like to have a different skin color so I won’t pretend to know.”
One of the NFL’s four minority head coaches, Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores said voices need to be constant to create change.
“Many people who broadcast their opinions on kneeling (during the national anthem) or on the hiring of minorities don’t seem to have an opinion on the recent murders of these young black men and women,” Flores said in a statement. “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.”