Over the past week, every story in sports took a backseat to the ongoing protests across the United States. That unrest, sparked by the unlawful killing of an African American by police in Minneapolis, has touched all corners of the nation.
Given the magnitude of the protests and the discussions they have forced to the forefront, those in leadership positions have largely addressed the matter. That includes the Los Angeles Chargers and their head coach, Anthony Lynn. Though this part of the calendar would typically focus on workouts and playbook installation, Lynn plans to deviate from those plans and talk to his players about the protests, the history of racism that prompted them, and civil responsibility.
"We are now!" Lynn told NFL Network's Jim Trotter about discussing the nationwide protests. "Some coaches started last week. My first meeting is 4 a.m. with rookies tomorrow morning. The uprising for social justice in this country will take priority."
Lynn, one of the NFL's few head coaches of color, has not kept quiet about issues involving race before. Earlier this year when the NFL proposed controversial changes to the "Rooney Rule" -- the policy that mandated teams interview minority candidates for vacancies at head coach and other positions -- Lynn did not hesitate to express his concerns.
"I think sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing if that makes sense," Lynn said of the proposed changes. "I think that there are a lot of qualified African-American coaches right now that could be a head coach in this league, and I just pray that we do our due diligence and get these guys an opportunity."
As for the ongoing civil unrest, Lynn wants to approach the discussion in a manner that allows players to speak freely and openly.
"I honestly don't know where the message will go," Lynn admitted. "It's going to be a real organic conversation and I want it to be player-driven. My hope is that we can be vulnerable with each other and a better teammate when it's all over."
Lynn and his coaching staff have yet to meet with their players in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, conversations like these can help build trust and respect between the coaches and athletes.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH