RENTON, Wash.– Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll delivered a passionate monologue during his news conference Saturday, speaking for more than 14 minutes about the need for white people to gain a better understanding of racism in America.
“They don’t know enough, and they need to be coached up and they need to be educated about what the heck is going on in this world,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks decided after a lengthy team meeting not to practice Saturday. Carroll was not scheduled to speak with reporters but did so after a last-minute change to the team’s media availability. He began by acknowledging Jackie Robinson Day and saying he wanted to talk “about some stuff that’s on my heart.”
“Black people can’t scream anymore,” Carroll said, “they can’t march anymore, they can’t bare their souls anymore to what they’ve lived with for hundreds of years because white guys came over from Europe and started a new country with a great idea and great ideals and wrote down great writings and laws and all of that, about democracy and freedom and equality for all, and … that’s not what happened because we went down this other road here.
“We followed economics and rich white guys making money, and they put together [a] system of slavery, and we’ve never left it, really. It’s never gone away. The really amazing thing I’ve learned is Black people know the truth. They know exactly what’s going on. It’s white people that don’t know. And it’s not that they’re not telling us. They’ve been telling us. We know what’s right and what’s wrong. We just have not been open to listen to it.”
Carroll called on coaches at all levels to lead the charge, because their positions give them so much influence.
“So coaches, I’m calling on you,” he said. “Let’s step up. No more being quiet, no more being afraid to talk the topics, no more ‘I’m a little bit uncomfortable, I might lose my job over this because I’ve taken a stand here or there.’ Screw it. We can’t do that anymore. Maybe if we do, we can be a leadership group that stands out, and maybe others will follow us. But it’s not just for coaches. I just know that I might have a better ear listening to me when I’m talking to coaches.”
Carroll did not take questions from reporters. His comments come amid a landmark week in American professional sports during which teams protested the police shooting of Jacob Blake by declining to play in games or practice. Quarterback Russell Wilson told 710 ESPN Seattle on Friday that the Seahawks would have joined other teams in not playing if they had had a game this week.
“This is a special place, like I’ve said before where everyone’s willing to learn and understand that wrong is wrong, and right is right,” Adams wrote.
Carroll said that with the greater prevalence of media compared to decades ago, “everybody has a voice, and we all are seeing the truth of how Black people are being treated in our streets. Really, law enforcement is a huge issue to our guys because they’re frightened for their lives. They’re frightened for the lives of their loved ones and their children. They’re frightened because they don’t know what’s going to [happen] because of what we continue to see.”
While talking about tangible actions to create change, Carroll said all Seahawks players will be officially registered to vote as of Saturday. He called that “a start.”
On Friday, 27-year-old Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs said he’s registered to vote this year for the first time in his life.
Carroll stressed the importance of listening to Black athletes.
“There’s no question what’s happened,” he said. “They’re living scared to death. And it never was OK; just now that we see so vividly what’s going on, we have to get it stopped now. I hope somebody’s listening, because we have to create the change and we’ve got to be the change to get that done. Coaches, let’s let us be the ones. Lead in your communities. We’re in communities everywhere across this country, we’re all over the place in all the different sports. Hear me. Let’s go. Let’s get this done.”