Devin McCourty, Cam Newton and other New England Patriots players have spoken at great length about ongoing social justice issues in the past week.
Those discussions have bled into team-wide meetings, something coach Bill Belichick said he was proud to be a part of.
“I’ve certainly learned a lot, continued to learn a lot and we have an incredible group of players,” Belichick said during his Friday press conference. “I’m so proud of this team and the players we have on it.”
The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Sunday re-sparked many of the same discussions athletes have been having in the public since the murder of George Floyd on May 25. While Belichick said he would keep the specifics of his team’s discussions about race and police brutality private, he commended his players for their leadership and ability to be involved as teammates, parents and community members.
“We’ve always prided ourselves in doing things right and not only being a good football team but being a pillar in the community,” Belichick said. “That continues to be our goal and our expectation, and I’m so proud of what our players do on all those levels.”
While the Patriots have yet to put out a team statement on racial injustice this week in the vein of the Baltimore Ravens and others, the team Twitter account has retweeted input from McCourty, cornerback Stephon GIlmore, running back James White and others.
Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft both spoke with McCourty about issues of race in America when he was honored by Boston Uncornered for his work in and around the community in June. The Patriots coach said McCourty’s healthy discussions and actions have led to positive change, and that he was looking forward to increasing his own role in social justice conversations moving forward.
The details of the team’s conversations this week will go unpublished, but Belichick has already begun to facilitate those discussions in Foxboro.