A lot has been going on around sports following the Jacob Blake shooting. Many NFL teams decided not to practice on Thursday. The Bengals did decide to continue with practice, and A.J. Green spoke with the media afterwards.
“I think we as a team need to get together and have a bigger discussion (about) what’s going on in this world, how we can make a change and I think it starts from the top.”
Bengals owner Mike Brown is notorious when it comes to social issues. When many Bengals players wanted to follow Colin Kaepernick’s example by kneeling in 2017, Brown was very adamant that the players would not kneel.
“Having the uncomfortable conversation with the owners, the general managers and making everyone feel comfortable,” Green said. ”A lot of players are scared to talk because a lot of people aren’t financially stable to where they can make comments on how they feel about things and not feel like they will get cut or something like that. I think it starts from the top and that will create an environment where these guys are comfortable voicing their opinion and not feel like, ‘This could cost me my job because I have a family to feed.’”
According to WLWT, an anonymous player said if he knelt, “he would not expect to get a good contract offer the following year and others had the same sentiment.”
Green knows his future in the league is still bright. If the Bengals don’t re-sign him, someone else will pay him a lot of money in the offseason.
But not everyone has that luxury. Many players want to say something, but some are worried that speaking out would hurt their careers—especially this season when everything is much more uncertain.
Another player who has the leverage to speak out is the Bengals’ franchise quarterback.
Joe Burrow has been outspoken on social issues since before he was a Bengal. On Thursday, he tweeted his support for the African-American community.
“That’s what you want to see. You want to see that quarterback position step up because those are the guys that drive our league,” Green said. ”It speaks volumes, especially to the guys in the locker room. You want to rally around guys like that who are speaking up. And being not an African-American male, being a white male — he’s speaking up for what we’re trying to create. When you have a guy like that, you just want to rally behind him.”
But Green isn’t going to wait for someone else to starting having a conversation. He’s going to get things started at home with his children.
“I have two brown boys I have to raise and I have to teach them the inequalities that being a black man comes with,” Green said. ”That’s a tough conversation to have with a young kid who doesn’t see anything, who’s always sheltered, who can get anything he wants, who’s going to go to the best schools but at the same time he’s a black boy and his dad is black. For me, it’s going to start with me talking to my kids. It’s going to be an uncomfortable conversation we are going to have to have as men.”