GREEN BAY - After staying mostly quiet in the wake of George Floyd’s death last week in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, the Green Bay Packers broke their silence emphatically Thursday morning.
The Packers released a one-minute, 55-second video on Twitter directly addressing Floyd’s death and the need for social and policy reform. The video includes a dozen players, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, along with head coach Matt LaFleur.
“Antiquated laws and legislation need to be amended and repealed, especially those prejudicially biased toward people of color,” Rodgers said in the video. “… We ask that you commit to listening with an open heart.”
Said LaFleur: “We need to come up with real solutions to make significant change. The right actions speak a lot louder than the right words.”
Players also included in the video were, in order of appearance, right guard Billy Turner, running back Aaron Jones, safety Adrian Amos, kicker Mason Crosby, left tackle David Bakhtiari, outside linebacker Preston Smith, center Corey Linsley, cornerback Kevin King, receiver Davante Adams, tight end Marcedes Lewis and defensive lineman Kenny Clark.
The video begins with Turner saying he’s “embarrassed as a human” regarding inequality. Jones said he is “tired.” Amos said he is “frustrated.” Crosby said he is “heartbroken.”
After the text “enough is enough” is seen on the screen, King, who protested during the national anthem before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in his rookie season of 2017, addresses police brutality.
“The inhumane murder of George Floyd has become far too common in America,” he said.
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The video speaks out against racism, with Linsley calling it a “systemic” issue. Lewis asks for “structural reform not only from the community, but from law enforcement, in a collaborative way.” Adams said it’s important to be better educated on the issue.
“Racism is taught and learned,” Adams said. “It’s not something you’re born with. Let’s do a better job of educating our youth and younger people behind us.”
The Packers later pledged to work with players to donate $250,000 to Wisconsin causes that support social justice and racial equality, team president/CEO Mark Murphy announced in an extended statement Thursday. Murphy also said he and his wife, Laurie, will match the team’s donation with their own $250,000 personal donation.
“The Packers community has been horrified at the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others,” Murphy’s statement read in part. “For their loved ones, the loss must be agonizingly magnified by the fact that if the victims were white, they would likely still be alive. I can’t imagine that pain. We condemn the systemic racism that has existed forever in this country. We stand with those raising their voices, protesting the injustices and demanding change.”
Earlier this week, the Packers participated in #BlackOutTuesday, postponing scheduled interviews with Bakhtiari and linebacker Christian Kirksey in observance of a movement that mourned Floyd’s death and pushed for policy reform. Their video Thursday was the first statement regarding Floyd’s death or the broader issue of social injustice and inequality.
Murphy said he had a chance to visit with some of the Packers’ players and hear about their experiences.
“We must all hold ourselves accountable for the ways, small and large, knowingly and unknowingly, that we have contributed to the injustices,” Murphy said. “And, without taking away from this most important focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, we can also take this time to dissect our own role in discrimination toward people with differences in gender, gender identity, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, and physical and mental abilities. I will continue to educate myself on these issues and spend more time putting words into practice.
“My hope for the future comes from America’s young people, including our players. … They are emotional and passionate about this issue. They want to make a difference by using their platform to bring attention to racism, police brutality, oppression and injustice, and they want to effect change.”