In the hour leading to a scheduled scrimmage at SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn sensed that his players and assistants needed to talk about the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
After listening to several impassioned speeches about the impact of racism, police brutality and the need to embrace the moment to seed change, Lynn made the decision to cancel the scrimmage.
“We gotta continue to bring awareness to this situation, then we gotta do something,” Lynn said. “I don’t think we’re in the right mindset to practice.”
“Hard Knocks: Los Angeles” continued Tuesday, with the HBO series focusing on behind-the-scenes conversations held at the Chargers and Rams training camps in the wake of Blake’s shooting.
When shown the viral video of a police officer shooting Blake, Rams coach Sean McVay reacted in astonishment. “Are you f—ing kidding me?” McVay said. “That makes me sick.”
“For us, whether it’s canceling practice, what does that actually move?” Woods asked. “I feel like we actually got to do an action, whether it’s go somewhere — go to political offices, go to LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department], be the change right there in that moment versus some words, or something. It’s deeper than words. We need to show up somewhere.”
The Rams opted to hold practice, where discussions continued.
Woods and fellow wide receiver Cooper Kupp talked about NBA legend Bill Russell’s impact when he boycotted a game in 1961. “And we’re still doing the same thing,” Woods said, expressing disappointment. “There’s been change, but it’s showing that it’s still a long, long process.”
With the Chargers, during a video meeting on the night NBA players decided to boycott games, Lynn called the police shooting in Wisconsin “unfreakingbelievable.”
He also said that he did not think that canceling practice would make a difference, and instead implored players to get into the community to create change, and “get your [butt] out and vote to get the right people in the positions that have the same viewpoints that you have.”
Lynn also encouraged players to speak their mind to the media after they finished practice.
However, a day later, Lynn thought it best to cancel practice for the health and safety of his team, which he said was not in the mind space to play a physical game.
At SoFi Stadium, with his players lined up behind him, Lynn told reporters. “This football team is committed to fighting for a championship and social justice.”