The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin sent another shock wave through the realm of professional athletes, coming after months of protests in response to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others.
WNBA and NBA players forced playoff games to be cancelled, while some MLB and NFL teams decided not to play games or hold practices Wednesday and Thursday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose to practice Thursday morning on schedule, and afterward, coaches shared their thoughts on recent events via video conference calls with the media.
“I talked with some of our guys," head coach Bruce Arians said. "We have a good social justice program here and our committee is meeting. If they want to do something, we’ll do it, as long as it’s something that’s going to have something to do with change and not just taking a day off.”
Arians questioned whether or not protesting was the right course of action for professional athletes in response to these injustices.
“The responsibility is to take action," Arians said. "I don’t know that protest is an action. I think each guy has a personal thing [and] I would beg them to take action. Find a cause and either support it financially or do something to change the situation, because protesting doesn’t do crap in my opinion. I’ve been seeing that since 1968.”
Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, one of four Black men holding a coordinator position on the Tampa Bay coaching staff, said he fully supports whatever actions the players choose to take.
“As a coach, the first thing you do is you listen to the players," said Leftwich. "It’s really about them. I support whatever they want to do. To me, it’s whatever. Whatever they feel we should do as a group, we’ll do. I believe in the cause. Things have to change, right? The things we’re seeing on TV right now – it’s scary the things we see every day and the experiences that some people have. I’m in 100 percent support of whatever the players want to do. I don’t think I should have an opinion on what they should do – I’m just here to support whatever they feel as though we should do.”