Earlier this month, Saints quarterback Drew Brees made headlines after he announced that he disagreed with any players who kneel during the national anthem, a move made famous by Colin Kaepernick to highlight the racial injustices the Black community faces.
Brees’s comments were especially harsh given the country’s recent focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. The quarterback later apologized. However, the damage was done. Other NFL teams took the outcry about Brees as a warning of what could happen if a dialogue wasn’t initiated within each organization, including head coach Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
Bill Belichick brought in an expert on racial justice
While it’s rare for fans to hear about what exactly goes on within the Patriots’ meetings, fans were pleased to hear that Belichick took the time to focus on the race discussions that are rocking the nation. As WEEI reports, the coach invited Rahsaan Hall, the director of the racial justice program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, to speak to the team via Zoom.
This is the second time Hall has been invited to speak to the team; he first spoke to last year’s rookies during New England’s rookie transition program. The director spoke with the team for about an hour and discussed the history of racism in the U.S.
Sports Illustrated reports that Hall spoke with a great depth of knowledge on the subject and was an excellent guest speaker. Belichick has a history of being frank and no-nonsense with his team. It’s clear he’s treating this matter in the same way.
Patriots teammates support Belichick’s open dialogue about race
Running back James White spoke with Massachusetts magazine MassLive about the team’s meeting with Hall. White expressed gratefulness toward Belichick for willingly having these tough discussions about race with the team, especially in a time usually reserved for football.
“It’s awesome. Coach Belichick has an open mind,” White said. “He understands everything that’s going on and some people are upset. He wanted to get a better grasp of things. We all wanted to get a better grasp of things.”
Cornerback Jason McCourty also commented on the meeting. He said it gave the team a chance to work together toward a common goal greater than football. McCourty said:
“We all want to do something special on the field. But at the same time, we have a responsibility to get to know each other and build on things we can do in the community. So I’m excited to see what a locker room will be like when you have 90 guys that are willing to care for one another and be able to make change together.”
The NFL stated its commitment to supporting the Black community
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a video statement on behalf of the league. He said they support any ongoing protests on the matter, both on and off the field. Goodell acknowledged that the league has, in the past, been wrong for not listening to players like Kaepernick.
“We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter,” Goodell said, according to Yahoo Sports. “I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League.”
Many players retweeted the message in support and have been sharing their own opinions on the matter. While the logistics of the 2020 season are still unclear amidst COVID-19, it’s clear that NFL players are committed to working together.