Former Jaguars DB Peyton Thompson Says He Spoke With Doug Marrone About Kneeling and Change
Former Jacksonville Jaguars safety Peyton Thompson has continued to speak out about the animosity that existed within the Jaguars organization and NFL overall in past years after taking a stance against the NFL's social justice statement.
On Monday, following a weekend of protest and riots relating to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell released the following statement:
"The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country. The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those who have lost loved ones, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, the cousin of Tracy Walker of the Detroit Lions.
"As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners."
Following the widespread release of the statement, multiple players accused the league of hypocrisy, revealing they were pressured into not joining the protest of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick famously spent the 2016 season kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem, saying it was his way of protesting police brutality against people of color in the United States. It was widely seen as an affront to the American flag and military, although Kaepernick and players said it was not.
Thompson, who played for Jacksonville from 2014-2017, was one of those players to speak out on Monday. Thompson was a member of the 2017 Jaguars team that protested during their regular season game against the Baltimore Ravens in London. Players locked arms on the sideline with head coach Doug Marrone, owner Shad Khan, and each other, while a number of other players also kneeled, showing solidarity with Kaepernick, Eric Reid, and other protestors. However, Thompson says even getting to that point caused division within the organization.
"The statement issued by the @nfl is complete trash," Thompson tweeted. "I specifically remember Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone telling us we couldn't kneel. Thank God we had an owner of minority who weighed in and got us to kneel together! My job security was on the line if I supported my people."
On Tuesday, Thompson revealed he has since spoken with his former coach, calling it a "healthy" conversation. He ask for NFL teams to move beyond statements "full of fluff" and find a real solution. Conversations like Thompson's and Marrone's are the first step.
"I had a healthy conversation with Marrone yesterday," Thompson tweeted.
"We spoke of his career's work on equality and his efforts to make his players feel supported as well as the need to separate his actions from others in the organization. But, we also spoke of a time when the organization had a 3rd party come in to speak to the team in an attempt to convince us to change our stance.
"The reality is—the environment that was created in our facility wasn't safe for everyone to kneel peacefully in protest. At least 60% of the team is of minority, including the owner, yet every player and coach across the league was scared to get "Kaepernick'd." Voiced muffled by fear. Job security over human rights. If you stand by and silently watch harm being done to others then you're a part of the problem—not the solution.
"The Jaguars have the opportunity for a do-over! I'm hopeful that Doug's activism will lead the charge for change this time around. Shad [Khan] has the power to make good of the NFL's statement. I look forward to watching the leader of the team ensure that his players feel as though they have the FULL support of the entire organization. Action needs to start with the owner and the coaches...If the Jags won't do it, what organization will?
"Inaction is now offensive."
Shad Khan is one of two minority owners in the NFL, the other being Kim Pegula who is one of the principal owners of the Buffalo Bills along with her husband Terry. Thompson feels with Khan's position, he can lead the Jaguars as one of the teams to wrought change within the NFL in relation to racial division.
Floyd died last Monday in the custody of Minneapolis law enforcement officers after police officer Derek Chauvin pinned him down with his knee on the back of his neck. The incident was captured on a video that went viral, showing Floyd repeating stating that he couldn't breathe.
Chauvin, who was one of four police officers detaining Floyd at the time, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Since Floyd's death, there have been protests throughout the United States to push back against police brutality and racial inequality.