JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Doug Marrone has a bit of advice for Jaguars players involved in the movement for social justice and fight for racial equality.
Now is not the time to slow down.
The Jaguars coach said on Friday that he’s proud of players and employees of the team for speaking up and stepping out in wake of the very prominent deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement, or in the presence of former law enforcement officers, in recent months.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25 was the ultimate tipping point for the country. Since Floyd’s death, and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, the country has seen significant movement on racial fronts.
NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at races. Confederate monuments have been removed at a staggering pace. The NFL announced that it was wrong to try and silence player’s speaking out on the cause and pledged $250 million over 10 years to combat racism.
Marrone said that this is “different from anything that’s happened in my lifetime,” but players can’t stop now.
“I've seen starts of this, but I've seen them stop, or fade is a better way to put it. And I think now there’s the chance, there’s a moment, obviously with the murder of George Floyd, that sparked an activism that can create change,” Marrone said.
“And I think that our players have done an outstanding job of being aware of how to create change and we're all constantly learning what we can do and how we can do it.”
Jaguars owner Shad Khan wrote a powerful op-ed on the Jaguars website on June 3 saying that now was the time to confront and address racial discrimination. Khan met with players on a video call Thursday as well.
Two days later, the Jaguars held a peaceful protest walk from TIAA Bank Field to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Running back Leonard Fournette led a peaceful protest walk on Tuesday. Hours before Fournette marched with Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams, the city removed one of its biggest Confederate monuments downtown.
Marrone has taken part in at least two peaceful protests in town and said that he’s tried to encourage players to use their platform for change. As receiver Chris Conley said last week on the steps of the Sheriff’s Office, players need to ensure that this moment turns into something greater.
“Our No. 1 priority is that we sustain ourselves in this movement. So, I talked to [director of player development] Marcus Pollard. We’re building some things into our schedule over the summer. We’ll be able to have these discussions,” Marrone said. “I didn’t want to stop them and then all of a sudden they start when we report [to camp]. I think that this needs to be ongoing. I think we need to be progressing until all of us come back.”