Carson Wentz often uses his platform as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for his faith-based charitable endeavors.
On Thursday night the Eagles quarterback, along with teammates, tight end Zach Ertz and receiver DeSean Jackson, tackled systemic racism in the United States following the death of George Floyd earlier this week in Minneapolis.
Floyd, 46, was killed in police custody in an ugly incident caught on video in which the offending officer, who was quickly fired and is expected to be prosecuted, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes while the man begged for mercy.
Floyd was handcuffed at the time and did not appear to be a threat. Since the incident, violent protests have erupted capped off by the burning of the city police department's 3rd Precinct, the epicenter of the unrest.
Wentz, who grew up in neighboring North Dakota, expressed his thoughts on social media.
“Been thinking about the George Floyd situation and thinking of the words to say & coming up empty,” said the quarterback. “All I know is that the institutional racism in this country breaks my heart and needs to stop. Can’t even fathom what the black community has to endure on a daily basis.”
Ertz expressed similar thoughts in an open letter format:
“Over the past few days my emotions have been swirling; consistently trying to come up with the perfect words to write in regards to George Floyd and the tragic murder that took place in Minnesota,” Ertz wrote. “With that being said, even the thought of coming up with the ‘perfect’ saying is so damn selfish, What I do know is that I’m unbelievably sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt the African American community has endured by another human and more than anything I am sorry that you feel alone in this situation.”
As caucasian stars in a predominately African-American sport, the words are likely to resonate in the Eagles’ locker room and both current teammates and former teammates like Torrey Smith and Chris Long have already thanked both players for acknowledging the issue and the difficulties surrounding it.
DeSean Jackson's message was unity:
"As I continue to wrap my thoughts around the murder of #georgefloyd . I can’t seem to figure out what we have to do as black men. We have not been perfect but most definitely we are taking (an) approach to better our selfs & community," Jackson posted on Instagram.
"As I raise 3 young black men, I can’t put my mind past the fairness we as African Americans should receive. I’m all about positivity & LOVE FOR ALL !! Never been a racist person towards any regardless of the circumstances!! 1 LoVE 2 All #redbluebrownblack."
Wentz, meanwhile, acknowledged the different circumstances in life experience others need to understand and embrace. No two people have the same worldview never mind two racial groups and perhaps understanding that simple truth and showing empathy toward others is a good place to start.
“Being from North Dakota, I’ve spent a large part of my life surrounded by people of similar color, so I’m never gonna act like I know what the black community goes through or even has gone through already,” said Wentz. “I’ll never know the feeling of having to worry about my kids going outside because of their skin color.
“However, I do know that we are all equal at the foot of the cross and Jesus Taught us to value others’ lives like they were our own — regardless of skin tone.
“So, this might seem like a ramble — and perhaps it is. I don’t understand the society that we live in that doesn’t value all human life. It’s heartbreaking and disturbing. My prayers go out to every man, woman, and child that has to endure the effects of racism in our society.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen