Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson absolutely loves football. But now is not the time to talk about football and Wilson had no desire to speak about the game when he met with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
Wilson spoke with emotion as he expressed his dismay and hurt at the events of the last several weeks amid protests and demonstrations following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
"I don't have all the answers," Wilson said. "Sometimes I feel like I always normally have some answers for you guys but the answer I do know is that it's important we understand that me being African-American, being black is a real thing in America. It's a real thing in a sense of the history and the pain and even my own family, personally. My great, great grandparents were slaves. There's a lot of history there.
"It's staggering to watch these things happen right in front of our faces. So I have a heavy heart right now. I don't have all the right answers or anything. To be honest with you, I don't even want to talk about football right now. ... I think that none of that matters. I can't compare football to life and what the black community is going through right now."
Wilson spoke as many players and teams from across the NFL have expressed outrage over the death of Floyd, which came from officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for approximately nine minutes despite being handcuffed as Floyd repeatedly stated he couldn't breathe. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and three additional officers have been charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd's death.
"I'm praying that my kids don't have to grow up in a world where they have to face that much weight every day when they walk outside and worry and pain," Wilson said. "The sad thought about this is a guy was murdered last week. A guy was murdered last week. There needs to be a change. There needs to be a change. It's not overly complicated."
"I'm praying for George's family, Ahmaud (Arbery)'s family, Breonna (Taylor)'s family and everybody else that has experienced trauma and pain in that situation, the people that are being brutally beaten for just simply protesting. I'm praying for them too."
Arbery was shot by two white men in the middle of a street as he passed them while out for a jog in February in Brunswick, Georgira. Taylor was shot and killed in her own bed in March in Louisville, Kentucky after breaching her residence on a "no-knock" warrant in a search for drugs, which were not found.
Wilson said he wished he could have somehow been in Minneapolis in hopes of helping in Floyd's situation to avoid the tragic end result that has been the impetus for massive protests across the country.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick set off discussions about the subject in 2016 as he first sat, and then knelt, during the national anthem prior to games. Kaepernick said he was doing so as a protest against police brutality and social injustice. After being released by the 49ers at the end of the 2016 season, Kaepernick has been effectively blackballed by the NFL as he has not been signed by any of its 32 teams in the years since despite having led a team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2012.
Many members of the Seahawks in the years since have spoke in support of Kaepernick's protest, knelt (or sat) during the national anthem, or remained in the locker room during the anthem as gestures of support.
“It’s heavy on me because I think the reality is with Colin, in particular, is he was trying to symbolize the right thing,’’ Wilson said. “People may have taken that the wrong way. But I think he was trying to do the right thing. …Colin was trying to symbolize the oppression that was going on in America and has been for 400 years.
"He stood up for something that's way more greater than football."
Wilson also said Kaepernick deserves to be in the NFL.
"I think that Colin should definitely be playing in the NFL," Wilson said. "He was a great football player. It's unfortunate. But I also know that he stood up for something that's way greater and he's had tons of significance in terms of what he's meant for trying to make a change and symbolizing that and everything else.
"He could definitely be on our roster, for sure."
Wilson shared stories of being told by an older white man after the team won the Super Bowl in 2013 "that's not for you" while in line for breakfast at an undisclosed place in California.
"I had just come off the Super Bowl and everything else and if someone is talking to me that way," Wilson said. "... that was a heavy moment for me that this is really still real. That really pained my heart."
Wilson is a hopeful person by nature and he remains hopeful that there is a path forward out of this current circumstance toward a better future. But Wilson didn't shy away from his disappointment that has set in amid current events but hopes the moment will yield a brighter future.
"We need people to be able to communicate better we need people to be to love better make the right decisions," Wilson said. "If you're in a moment of something happening, to be able to help make a difference and slow things down. And for, you know, for the policemen that we do have to be the leaders in those communities to help and to prevent things like this happening. That would be my hope. That would be my prayer. My ultimate prayer is for my newborn son that comes into the world to be able to live in a world that's not like this. So that's my prayer. I know I'll do my part and understand that I want to make a difference."
Photo Credit: GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks greets Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers after the Packers defeated the Seahawks 28-23 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)