The conversations regarding police brutality and racial injustices in America transcend every industry. And when the Cincinnati Bengals talk about it, we have no excuse not to do so as well.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor held an open meeting for players and coaches to air out their feelings on the current events happening in the country. Such a dialogue was welcome to likes of several players, including veteran safety Shawn Williams.
“We had a meeting airing it all out,” Williams told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “The raw, uncut truth of feelings. ‘How’s it make you feel? How are you dealing with it and what changes have to be made going forward?’ ... To hear people express the way they’re feeling, it was hard. But it’s what’s needed. Guys are angry. Guys are scared. A different range of emotions. Things got tense, but for the right reasons. This stuff is emotional. You can’t have this conversation without emotion.”
The private platform to release those emotions is a standard that every organization should provide for their employees. Defensive line coach Nick Eason is technically an employee in the grand scheme of things, but he’s looked on as a leader in his own level of management within the organization. Coaches have voices on these matters as well.
“I think it gave a stage for everyone to express their feelings about the events that have taken place the last couple of weeks,” Eason said. “To learn from and encourage one another. What was great about it is that nobody went after anybody. It gave us an opportunity to share life experiences … I think a lot of positive was accomplished in those meetings.”
Hearing about the experiences of fellow peers can lead to not only understanding, but empathy as well. Some players and coaches on the team haven’t been targets of deep-rooted racism and systematic oppression that infects American culture to this day. Defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow knows he falls into the demographic of the sheltered, but came away more enlightened of the struggles that surround him.
“I didn’t really understand to what extent it was going on until I started hearing stories from my teammates and doing my own internet searches and going down the whole line,” Glasgow said. “It’s pretty eye opening. I’m thankful for the stories they’ve shared over the last few days.
“It’s a necessary conversation for every team or company to have at this point in time to discuss everything that’s going on in the United States and move forward together on the same track and same plan and become a better country and realize what’s been happening to the black community and the fight they’ve been fighting for the last 300 years.”
Glasgow’s realization is important for reasons that offensive lineman Michael Jordan expanded upon in his own reflection.
“If black people could have solved racism, it would have been done by now, so I feel like we need white people or people in power or policemen to vocalize our opinions and scream them to everybody … You can’t just have black people screaming. You have to have everybody screaming.”
One message by one unified body of people. That’s enough for real change to happen. Zac Taylor is doing his part to help his players and coaches become part of the solution.