Athletes all across the country over the past two weeks have made it clear that by no means will they any longer feel the obligation to ‘stick to sports’—that every athlete in this country is as much a citizen as anybody else and is free to use their rights to expression to speak on issues and to attempt to enact change.
Through the Players Coalition, well over 1000 current and former players between the NFL, the MLB, and the NBA, as well as hundreds of front office executives, attached their names to a letter to Congress calling on them to pass a bill set before them that targets the concept of qualified immunity.
“Qualified immunity has shielded some of the worst law enforcement officials in America”, the letter reads. Noting that the Supreme Court originally introduced the idea in 1967 and has expanded its reach since then, specific examples are also cited of court cases in which it was invoked to protect officers from being held accountable for their actions, even when stealing money while carrying out a search warrant.
Today, on behalf of 1100+ athletes & coaches and 300+ front office personnel across the @NFL @NBA & @MLB, we urge Congress to pass the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, introduced by @justinamash & @AyannaPressley
We demand accountability for police brutality. It’s time for change. pic.twitter.com/ro7eRmvSK6
— PlayersCoalition (@playercoalition) June 10, 2020
Among the list of several hundreds of names are two current members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, those being veteran cornerback Steven Nelson and rookie offensive lineman, fourth-round pick, Kevin Dotson. The latter is actually one of a number of rookies around the league who have attached their name.
Many former Steelers of recent vintage are also on the list, with the most recent being Roosevelt Nix and Joshua Dobbs, who were on the team in 2019, or at least a part of it. Patrick Morris is also on the list.
More former Steelers include Arthur Moats, Chris Hubbard, Kelvin Beachum, Will Johnson, and Al Woods. The biggest name for me is James Farrior, one of the most respected players from the team’s second-greatest period in team history during the 2000s.
Another name I’d like to point out is Roy Jefferson. So far as I can tell, this appears to be the same Roy Jefferson who played for the Steelers from 1965 to 1969, and would play another seven years in the league in Baltimore and Washington, being named an All-Pro three times.
Other than Steelers, if you look through it, there are a lot of major names on this list, whether future or current Hall of Famers. Tom Brady and Drew Brees attached their name here. Jim Kelly and Kurt Warner are just some of the Hall of Famers from the NFL. And many major names from other leagues are here as well, including Andrew McCutchens, one of the greats in Pittsburgh Pirates history.
There is still going to be plenty of ‘stick to sports’ out there. I think a lot of people have sensed that this was coming even before it came. Even I personally noticed a drop of dozens of followers in the few days after George Floyd’s murder—before I had written anything about any tangential topic. Aditi Kinkhabwala said that she lost over 4000 followers. Nobody is here to proselytize. But we also must not bury our heads in the sand. Bottom line, this is a significant thing and Steelers have attached their name to it, so that’s why it’s here. Don’t like it? Then you shouldn’t have clicked on this article in the first place, and you’re free to click out and find one of the other many articles that we write to read instead.