NFL

Michael Strahan’s Furor Over Being Stopped for ‘Driving While Black’

All-time great NFL defensive lineman Michael Strahan  makes an interesting observation as the country struggles once again with issues of race relations: How can we expect to end horrors like the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis when lesser incidents are commonplace and show no sign of being eradicated?

TV personality and retired football star Michael Strahan speaks out

Hall of Fame defensive lineman Michael Strahan is fed up. Deaths of blacks under questionable circumstances in this country continue to pile up, he said on social media this week in reference to the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

“I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” Strahan said in a video he posted on Twitter. “Mad as hell about it. Because we continue to have these same conversations, and at the end of the day, there seems to be no resolution. No justice. No finish. I think that’s the frustrating thing.”

He finished that thought with this:

“It’s very hard as a black man that the color of your skin makes people scared of you.”

It’s Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer while three other officers failed to intervene that has galvanized the country. If people chose to ignore the incident, captured on video and widely shared, then they could not ignore the protest rallies that have been taking place in the past week.

It started with Floyd being suspected of spending a counterfeit $20 bill. It ended with the 46-year-old black man being choked to death by a police officer applying his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

Michael Strahan recounts a recent traffic stop

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How an incident that starts over the authenticity of a $20 bill can end with the suspect being killed is beyond the grasp of most. But Michael Strahan says black men are unnecessarily engaged by police over minor or even non-existent offenses.

Even Strahan is subjected to such encounters. A 15-year stint as a star defensive lineman with the New York Giants, followed by a career as an NFL analyst on Sunday afternoons and a talk-show host on weekdays, does not make him immune to unwarranted scrutiny by police.

He admits his celebrity status sometimes comes in handy, but the benefits are outweighed by other instances.

“(A) week and a half ago, I’m in the car driving, nice car, just driving,” he said in the video, which runs more than five minutes. “I get pulled over, a cop pulls (me) over for nothing. I’m not speeding. I’m in traffic. I’m nothing, just doing nothing but driving while black.

“Comes up to my window. Looks in and goes, ‘Oh, Michael, I’m such a big fan. When I was a kid, I would go trick-or-treating just to come by your house hoping to meet you.’ And what a way to meet me, by pulling me over for doing nothing.”

There’s no clear path forward

Racial tension and discrimination have existed in the United States for too many generations to be magically waved away, even if the outcry over George Floyd’s death does result in some meaningful changes.

Michael Strahan believes continued protests that keep the issue at the forefront of current events can help, but incidents that have followed peaceful gatherings distract from what the focus should be.

“I understand the protests,” he said. “I do not agree with the looting and the rioting because that’s taking advantage of a situation and dishonoring George Floyd and all the others who we know of who have died senselessly at the hands of the police.”

Nor does the four-time first-team All-Pro believe that speeches by politicians solve problems. Their words may cause citizens to take note and to get involved, but nothing changes without the people who are most affected stepping up.

“We need to stop depending, I feel, on others to change for us,” Strahan said. “We’ve got to get together, and we’ve got to make a change for ourselves. In a positive way, in a peaceful way.”