In recent years under the guidance of coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks culture has allowed for passionate players to speak their minds freely, from Richard Sherman to Michael Bennett.
In the wake of nationwide demonstrations protesting George Floyd’s death, including destructive protests in Seattle Saturday night, several former and current Seahawks have shared their thoughts on the situation.
Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett reflected on his own experience with law enforcement while getting pulled over. “Me making millions didn’t stop what I experienced...if anything saying I was in the league brought more curiosity,” he tweeted.
Lockett, prominently known for his poetry, also shared his thoughts in verse.
Quandre Diggs shared his experience with losing an endorsement after speaking his mind - a former fan who cited Diggs as one of his favorite players then called him a “racist a** b***h” after Diggs criticized President Trump for his “looting and shooting” comment.
Diggs reiterated that his life has always been about more than football, saying that his mother taught him that “if I let this game define who I am, I’ve failed in life.”
Former Seahawks guard D.J. Fluker considered how his own perspective may be perceived in the public eye. “What if I say the wrong thing in anger? What if I say the right thing, but I’m told I am wrong?”
“I don’t want to be the next hashtag, I do want to help be a step towards eradicating this very real problem,” Fluker continues. He then encouraged minorities to apply to become police officers to “rewrite the training book”, telling followers to “get yourself in there and help prevent another George Floyd from happening.”
Former Seahawks legend Doug Baldwin struggled to find the right words to speak on Floyd’s death but ultimately said his “anger won’t let anything coherent come out.” Baldwin was angered by those who don’t understand the outrage over Floyd’s death and who are silent about the injustice meted out to him.
“We watched those with the power to intervene do nothing,” he tweeted. “Your silence and lack of outrage makes you complicit to their inaction.”
Baldwin continued: “When you look at your son, your daughter, your mother, father, brother, sister — you would do anything for the people you love. George Floyd was loved. Is loved. Nothing your hate can do will change that. Your hate is why you still don’t get it.”
Like others who see Floyd’s death as an injustice, Baldwin asks his followers what side they are on, morally-speaking. “When I look into my daughter’s eyes, I’ll be damned if every ounce of my body isn’t determined to stand and fight for what is right and good. There is no middle ground in that. I guess, I’m really wanting to know what the f*** it is you stand for.”
Sharing his stance on the situation, DK Metcalf teared up while explaining how deeply Floyd’s death resonated with him. It could be him or someone he loves who never comes home.
“I have family, friends, brothers that look like George Floyd, and to think being black in America can lead to that… it scares me; breaks my heart that my uncles could go out into the world today, and that could be them,” Metcalf said.
Reinforcing Metcalf’s belief that this could happen to someone who looks like Floyd, former Seahawks tackle George Fant shared an incident where an innocent man was misidentified by police for evading an arrest warrant and was forcibly kicked on the ground.
Rookie defensive end Jordyn Brooks echoed the words of Bernice King, Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter, as she compared the kneeling of Officer Derek Chauvin on Floyd’s neck to Colin Kaepernick’s kneel in protest during the 2016 season.
Despite the brutal reality many Seahawks players shared with their fans, several players offered positive messages about improving communication and empathy across racial lines. Receiver David Moore had an uplifting suggestion amidst the pandemic and racial fissures across the country: smile at a stranger of a different race while offering up a peaceful sign of unity.
Tight end Will Dissly offered his support and empathy to his black teammates and friends, saying he is “here to listen” and “ready for a change.”
Coach Pete Carroll showed his solidarity by sharing a speech by former Vice President Joe Biden, in which Biden discusses the “endless list of stolen potential wiped out unnecessarily” by racial profiling.
Diggs supported the message of former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who spoke candidly on how having black teammates changed his perspective on race.
“What happened over that time [playing football in college and the NFL] was the poison/lies/stereotypes that I was led to believe about the black community as a kid were wiped away. My whole adult life has been spent around good hearted, integrity filled, hard working, kind, funny, intelligent, conscious, motivated, loyal, friendly, trustworthy, amazing black people. Without sports—I don’t think I’d have those lies wiped away.”
In recent press conferences, Seahawks defensive end L.J. Collier and veteran offensive tackle Duane Brown were asked questions about the unrest in Minneapolis and beyond, speaking at length about what the protests represented to them.
“It’s upsetting just to see what those people are going through, the way that’s what they have to resort to just to be heard, just to be seen,” Collier said.
“At what point do people in the community have to be killed just to understand what being black is like, that this is what we go through every day? Just the fear of being pulled over, you don’t know what’s going to happen—nobody wants to live with that. The rioting is a point of, ‘what do we have to do for you to hear us?’ It’s just a sad thing, and I wish it was handled better. I feel like this should open some doors to help people understand what’s going on in this world and how people of color are being oppressed.”
When Brown was asked if he saw any progress being made as a society, he simply answered no.
“It seems like things like this continue to happen every year at some point,” he said. “I don’t know when it’ll change… it’s sad, I don’t really know what else to say about it. It’s been happening for a long time, and we’ll see what transpires from it.”
Recent data indicates that black Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans. Although only 6.9 percent of Seattle residents are African American, racial issues disproportionately affect football players: black players made up roughly 70 percent of NFL players in 2018.
Throughout the Seahawks community, sentiments of sadness, frustration and a desire for change are being shared in solidarity with George Floyd and other African Americans who have died in police custody.