The protests in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of four Minnesota police officers last Thursday are ongoing and now entering their second week. Movements have started up in parts of all 50 states and in many other countries all around the world, a sign of solidarity—as well as the fact that the same issues that boiled over up north can be felt throughout the human experience.
It has reached the point that the ‘stick to football’ crowd has dreaded, in which the sports world has been unable to remain silent. Seemingly every major sports league and each constituent team has issued some type of statement. Many players have done so as well. Some have marched. Some have protested. Many have declared that they will not be silent.
Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have not been overly vocal, at least from what I’ve seen. Team captain Cameron Heyward went on the radio shortly after Floyd’s murder and talked for a while about his experiences as a black man in America. Others have shared messages, or have been asked about it in interviews.
Steven Nelson was asked yesterday by Will Graves of the Associates Press about whether or not he feels the movement that has arisen pushing for racial justice has a chance of creating meaningful change, which may arguably the most significant such movement since the 1960s.
“I do think that things always have to get worse before they get better”, he said. “So if this is what it takes, if people have to protest or riot or loot, just to send a message, then that’s just what it is. But, I’m all for positivity and just trying to do everything the right way, but that’s just me. This is not just in America, you see protesters all across the world, so it’s kind of a big deal. And I think it will, if it doesn’t change all of that, I think it changes a great amount of it, if that makes sense. So I think it’s good”.
His response to this question is at roughly the 15-minute mark in the link above, part of a 20-minute teleconference that he sat in for with local media for the team’s website, so if you want to understand the way in which he said the above, take a gander at it above.
It’s not surprising that this moment has had the power to cross-pollinate and intersect with so many different walks of life. What happened, and the 10-minute video watching it happen, was virtually impossible to miss, or to ignore.
There has been immense public pressure from every angle for those with a voice not to remain silent, and so those who might not ordinarily choose to do so have been coaxed into commenting. Sports is heralded as an escapist activity, but we can’t escape our world for long—and there’s no sports going on in the country right now anyway. Well, aside from racing.