Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, went on the ESPN radio show “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” on Thursday, and one of the first questions he was asked was about the NBA’s wildcat strike in protest of systemic racism and the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Vincent, a former cornerback who spent 15 years in the NFL, was immediately moved to tears when talking about the NBA and WNBA players who protested. As a Black man with three sons under the age of 25, all of this is personal for Vincent.
Troy Vincent joined Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin this morning and had a powerful reaction to yesterday’s boycotts pic.twitter.com/KwbzmaHd3K— ESPN Radio (@ESPNRadio) August 27, 2020
“This s--- is — it’s gotta end. I’m so proud of these young boys. These young men and women. They did things I didn’t think about doing. I always fought for the community but during my time, we thought we had a handle on it, and obviously, we didn’t.
“But when I saw Doc Rivers and LeBron [James] and George Hill, I think about my three boys and I’m sitting up here every day having conversations about contact tracing and how we’re gonna play ball, and I got a 22-year-old and 20-year-old and a 15-year-old that I’m trying to prevent from being hunted. And they’re teachable moments and I’m trusting my Lord, trusting Him. I’m just proud of what the guys and the women are doing. As we would say, a unified people always defeat unified money. And I’m just proud. I’m proud.”
What if NFL players follow the NBA’s lead?
Vincent was then asked about what would happen in the NFL if NBA players decided to abandon the playoffs in protest. What would happen if players like Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes decide to follow that lead and also sit out in protest?
“If we’re not expecting this to happen, then we’re not living in reality. ... We keep having conversations with each other. We all agree — J, Key, we all agree — but we can’t have conversations with those who agree. We have to extend that conversation with those who have influence to change these policies. And I think it’s finding that common agreement, and it starts with that our Black lives matter no more, no less than anybody else.
“Then secondly, we’ve gotta agree that the shootings and the killings of Black men and women are crimes, and that people have to be held accountable. We can’t have that conversation if we’re not in agreement with those two points. Those are non-negotiable at this point. That’s where we start. ... We just got so much work to do.”
What could franchise owners do?
You can’t ask a question about NFL players protesting without also asking about how the team owners would respond, especially since many did not respond well to Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Vincent was asked how hard it is to have conversations with 32 franchise owners to get them to understand that the players need their power and influence to help move these issues along and create real change.
“Many [team owners] are there, Key. And I must say, in full transparency, many are not because they think it’s a disruption of the business. We’re not asking for the players, we as Black men, we’re not asking for anything that you’re not looking for for their children and families. So that discussion, it can’t be any clearer. When you watch the video of eight minutes and 46 seconds [voice breaks] of a knee on somebody’s neck who’s handcuffed, that should not be a dispute.
“Now how do we address this together? We need your influence as an owner, we need you to bridge the gap for us. We need you to talk to the DA. We need to have conversations with your local state officials. We need you to address police reform. We’re not saying disband police departments. But I’ll just say this. We have clear examples of deescalation.
“I keep thinking about the church killing in South Carolina. This man was armed, he killed nine people in a church. They [the police] took him to McDonald’s to eat! He killed our people! They had the shooting in Wisconsin. This man is armed, he’s just a teenager. He just killed some people and they’re offering him a bottle of water! ...
“The players, the coaches, and all sports, we’re just asking that you be in the fight with us. We love our game, we love the game that we play, but our communities are under siege. And we can’t have a blind eye to it.”
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