-Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians held a Zoom conference call on Thursday in which he led with this feelings regarding the current social climate and racial injustice*.*
"It's sickening. We all know when we see something that's horrific and wrong, and the events – especially the last three events – are wrong," Arians said. "They're murders. Hopefully justice will be served quickly."
Arians, who grew up witnessing race riots in his hometown of York, Penn. has made a point to champion diversity and inclusion in his own hiring practices as an NFL head coach.
"There are times that I think we haven't made any progress since 1968, when the national guard was rolling down the streets of my hometown and what went on then…the murder of Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] and Bobby Kennedy," he said, adding that as a country, we have. But it's not enough.
As a way to personally get involved, Arians mentioned a website he found doing his own research called JoinCampaignZero.org. The organization aims to address police reform specifically, stating: "We can live in a world where the police don't kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability" on their website. Arians 'joined up' with the cause himself.
It's setting an example for what he hopes everyone will do moving forward in order to bring about real change.
"I love the fact that people are upset and are raising their voices, but don't stop," Arians said. "It's one thing to march and protest, but it's another thing to take action. When the protesting's over, I would urge everyone to take action. Do something positive to help the situation. Don't just go back to being silent, because then it's going to happen again."
-The team itself followed up with a statement addressing the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police.
-Taking action is something Bucs players have been doing for years, preceding Arians and his staff with the player-led Social Justice Initiative established in 2018. Four players, left tackle Donovan Smith, left guard Ali Marpet, cornerback Carlton Davis and punter Bradley Pinion, sit on the board this year and have taken it upon themselves to facilitate conversation among the rest of their teammates.
"I know the guys – Ali, Donovan, Bradley and Carlton – who are on that board are reaching out to all our players to have conversations and see what as a group they can do to help situations, and as a group try to find some answers as to what we can do as a team," said Arians.
The Social Justice program has taken players to courthouses, detention facilities, juvenile residential facilities and more as a means of connecting with the local community and bringing about meaningful change. The pillars of their efforts include police relations, criminal justice reform, racial equality, workforce development and youth empowerment.
-More players took to social media individually to tell a little bit of their own stories and participate in the 'I am a black man' initiative making its way around various social platforms. Running back Dare Ogunbowale included his own perspective in a powerful caption that paints a picture of issues that black men face every day in this country.
More players continued the initiative, too.
And Davis, who shared this image from the movie, Remember the Titans, which we could all collectively do well to take literally.