CINCINNATI — Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap met with the media on Monday for the first time since training camp started.
The two-time Pro Bowler didn't answer many questions about football. In fact, he spent over 16 minutes talking about social injustice in America, how he experienced it first-hand this offseason and why he wants to create change.
Dunlap worked with nine-year NFL veteran Leger Douzable this offseason. They trained with other NFL players in any grass field they could find because parks and gyms were closed at the time.
During one of their workouts a park ranger stopped by and asked them to leave.
"There were three groups of guys working out," Dunlap said. "One group of high schoolers, one group of white NFL players and a group of Black NFL players separated between two fields. The group of soccer players were asked to get off the field. Then the Black group of NFL players were asked to get off the field aggressively as well. But he watched the other workout finish.
The incident occurred in late June or early July in Fort Lauderdale.
"We asked them, why did you demand that we leave the field and go to another field when we explained that we were almost done, literally five to 10 minutes, versus the other group that was able to finish the workout," Dunlap said. "And he pretty much watched and damn-near cheered them on."
This is just one of the many times that he's experienced something like this.
"I have a whole bunch of scenarios that I could talk about," he said.
Dunlap wants to create change in America and he believes the best way to do that is to have the full support from Bengals owner Mike Brown and the rest of the organization.
"I would like for all the higher-ups [to acknowledge the problem], as you’ve seen with Nike, as you’ve seen with the commissioner, as you’ve seen with certain organizations," Dunlap said. "They made it well known where they stand with what’s going on in America and they acknowledge seeing what’s going on in America is not right and they want to be a part of the solution. They not only spoke about it, they put action in place. If everyone does that, we will have a long-term effect because I don’t think there’s a bigger organization than the Bengals in this community. The Bengals, FC Cincy, the Reds are the biggest guys in this community, so if you get them collectively to speak up about seeing what’s going on and acknowledging that it’s not OK and they want to change, then I think change will happen. It will have a ripple effect."
He hasn't requested a meeting with Brown, but plans to do so in the near future. Having an in person meeting with anyone is hard during COVID-19.
"If I asked him in person, I think he might honor that," Dunlap said. "That's good a call to action that I should do. But we're in different tiers right now obviously with what's going on. He's an older man, so I want to respect his space and social distance. It's kind of tough because I don't want to do it on no Zoom. I would like to sit at a table."
Dunlap is focused on action, not awareness.
"I think right now there's enough awareness of what's going on in America," he said. "We need to put together a plan on action. The NFL seems like they're putting together a plan of action, but it needs to be collective. We need everyone on board. And everyone's not on board. I can say that."
Dunlap made these comments just two months after a report came out about Brown reportedly asking every player on the Bengals roster to stand for the national anthem before their Week 3 matchup against the Packers in 2017.
The Bengals owner "begged" the team to stand and "didn't want the backfire" that would come with it according to the report.
The team did create the Positive Impact Committee, which consists of multiple Bengals players that will work with the organization in hopes of making change.
"Elizabeth (Blackburn) gets it. She’s been adamant about putting together a plan about getting into the community and making a difference," Dunlap said. "But we still need everyone to get on board. Without everyone on board, it’s just a plan, a dream, or a temporary fix. It’s not going to be a long-term solution as what’s needed. We had the conversation, so they hear us. But what are you going to do? How are you going to affect your community?
"You have to do something in your community that affects long-term change so you can touch more people. If we all just get together and do something in Cincy, it’s just going to be in Cincy. But we need to do something in our hometown that will help create a web effect and touch more people and be more of a long-term thing."
Dunlap wants to make a difference and he's already focused on a specific area that needs to improve.
"Education reform. If I had to take a platform that’s probably one that I would stand on," Dunlap said. "That’s what I’ve done with all my foundation. Education is the key for our future. Obviously I feel like [fighting] racism is a start"
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