INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich opened his weekly off-season availability on Monday with a statement about social injustice and racial inequality.
“Injustice, few things stir the human heart and soul like injustice. When we see it, feel it, experience it, it is heart-wrenching. It is not enough for a person who looks like me to say, ‘I’m not racist.’ This kind of talk and thinking typically lends itself to a posture of neutrality, indifference and passivity. It is easy to be silent and do nothing when it doesn’t directly impact you. This attitude simply doesn’t evoke any conviction about doing what is right and standing up for the inherent dignity and rights of all people no matter the color of their skin.
“I stand firmly behind the Colts’ statement and in particular, the phrase that says, ‘We abhor racism.’ Racism is vile, deplorable, detestable. There is no form of it that is acceptable and in no way can it be justified. Our black community has bore the brunt of this injustice far too long. I believe that I, we, all have a personal responsibility to speak up and to act in ways that build each other up, not tear each other down. I believe each one of us can make a difference if we are willing to grow personally, and display the courage necessary for us to take steps of progress in this most important of issues.
“I just felt compelled to make a statement. I spent some time writing and just wanted to share personally. I know we issued an organizational statement, but I spent some time thinking and writing a statement that would reflect my own personal views, and I just cannot be silent. I want to be proactive and so, I want to do my part and feel responsible.”
Reich said that he and general manager Chris Ballard talked with the team on Thursday about the death of George Floyd and the reaction.
“It was hard to know the exact thing to say, but I just knew that we had to say something because we are a family as a football team. Even though I can never fully understand, right – we have a hard time fully understanding sometimes what other people are feeling. There is just something innately I think that we all know inside when we saw what happened in Minnesota, when we see what happens in general in this issue – innately we all know something is wrong, something must be said. I just felt like we couldn’t be silent. What we talked about was individually and organizationally, the responsibility we have given the platform that we have to try and make a difference.”
Reich opened up the meeting to comments and a few players did talk.
“Our players understand the responsibility and they’re hurting, many of them are hurting and feel the pain of this and because of that I feel it. As the coach, I feel when someone in your family is hurting, we all know it. If you truly believe that it’s family and someone in your family is hurting, then you hurt.
“I wouldn’t be foolish enough to try to tell them how to display and act on how they feel inside. As family members we can talk about it, but every person has to make that individual choice for themselves. I know a couple of our players have peacefully protested, cleaning up in a city – that type of thing and some others. Obviously, I hope and pray for their safety but I also understand that we are all trying to do our part in the ways that we think is best.”