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Cardinals Dealing with Challenge of Focusing on Work Amid Battles for Justice

Arizona Cardinals players cannot focus solely on football during ongoing fight for equality.

“It's really tough man.”

D.J. Humphries took a long sigh after his initial response on how he focuses on his job during the ongoing battle for racial injustice in America, highlighted this week by the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“It's so tough being able to push things out of your head so you can handle the task at hand,” Humphries said Friday.

The Cardinals enter their season amid a year of dynamic reactions to racial inequality and injustice with protesting throughout the summer and most recently players from various sports leagues, starting in the NBA, going on strike instead of playing.

Humphries said the strike made an impression on him.

“Basketball boycotted those games, they grabbed the entire country's attention,” Humphries said. “The world got to see black men on camera being emotional about the fears that they have in this world and their experiences.”

Arizona partook by calling off football activities on Thursday. Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury called it a day for players to be with friends and family to reflect and come up with a way to help the cause, whether through spreading messages on social media or registering to vote.

But, the Cardinals had to get ready to perform at their annual Red and White Practice on Friday, a prelude to the upcoming regular season starting on Sept. 13.

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Cardinals nose tackle and NFL Players Association rep Corey Peters weighed in on the mental turmoil of focusing on football when the world around him continues its struggle for equality.

“Obviously, it's a heavy period of time,” Peters said. “A lot of us are feeling kind of isolated, being in training camp and spending a lot of time in meetings and not really connected to the outside world. But, these issues are really heavy on our hearts. And so it's something that we spent a lot of time talking about.”

The team is discussing various plans of action to take together. Peters expressed how this is a strong way to balance doing their job with also finding ways to bring attention to the greater issues at hand.

“For me, it's something that's very difficult to focus on other things,” Peters added. I think the best bet moving forward for us is to just keep spending time with one another, talking to each other about these issues and figuring out how we can have the biggest impact.”

Humphries backed his teammate saying that the team needs a focused and organized plan to be most effective.

For him, football provides a healthy outlet. He called it a relief, a time where he can just be No. 74 for a few hours. 

But, he said he cannot forget at any point that he is a black man, a husband and a father, one who does not want his children to grow up worried about the same things he is. That has been weighing on his mind.

“I know how to accept what the world has for you, I know how to maneuver in this world,” Humphries said. “But for my children, that's not what I want. I want my children to grow up in a fair world and grow up in a world where what the Constitution says is how it really is.”

That is a strong message for all of us.