Black NFL players answer call of NBA elites to step up and take charge

Photo credit: Twitter - @MalcolmJenkins
Photo credit: Twitter – @MalcolmJenkins

Apparently, Carmelo Anthony’s call for his fellow athletes to step up and take charge in their communities to end senseless extrajudicial killings by police has been heard. From Kenny Smith encouraging NBA players to unite economically, to WNBA players boycotting the press and wearing t-shirts in support of forcing change, the basketball world is responding. That alone is a feat to be commended, but to get NFL players to step up, with more at risk due to their non-guaranteed contracts, is quite impressive.

Philadelphia Eagles stars Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Matthews, Jason Kelce and Najee Goode, as well as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Al-hajj Shabazz held a face-to-face meeting on Thursday with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, Jr. discussing ways to partner with police and communities. Their goal is to improve relations so what happened to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile doesn’t continue to occur.

“It’s like I even say to men and women in blue: ‘You can’t get upset when people want to call a wrong a wrong.’ It’s not an indictment of an entire profession and you can’t be so defensive about that,” Ross said after another officer had noticed the news cameras covering the meeting and expressed how poorly he thought police have been treated in the media lately.

The players weren’t just there for the camera time. Though they were inspired by the stand NBA stars took at the ESPYs, they already had been planning to do something around the topic of violence.

“The country has been outraged with some of the stuff that’s going on when you talk about shootings of what seem to be innocent men across the country as well as shootings against police officers,” Jenkins said as the meeting concluded. “There’s an obvious need for reconciliation when you talk about those two communities. As someone who’s in the community, as somebody who has a platform, I wanted to see if there’s a way that we can break that ice and just start the conversation…and use the resources of the guys that’s in this room to help facilitate that.”

Maxwell Brown, the former community partnership liaison who helped arrange the sit-down with Ross to at least begin a conversation, had strong words for skeptics who might denigrate the efforts of high profile athletes to make a difference.

“The other option is giving up and accepting things as they are,” said Brown. “That would be an injustice to our ancestors and what they fought for.”

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