Last year Brian Flores became the first current NFL coach to publicly support Colin Kaepernick and other players who knelt before football games to create awareness to social justice issues, which include the police brutality that has plagued communities of color for decades.
This week the Miami Dolphins coach provided ESPN an exclusive statement addressing racial issues and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, three black Americans who died in 2020 at the hands of white police officers or vigilantes attempting to patrol their community.
“I’ve had the privilege of being a part of many different circles that have included some very powerful and influential people of all different races and genders,” Flores told ESPN. ‘The events of the last few weeks have brought some of the memories of those conversations back to light. I vividly remember the Colin Kaepernick conversations. ‘Don’t ever disrespect the flag’ was the phrase that I heard over and over again. This idea that players were kneeling in support of social justice was something some people couldn’t wrap their head around. The outrage that I saw in the media and the anger I felt in some of my own private conversations caused me to sever a few long-standing friendships.
“Most recently, I’ve had conversations about incentivizing teams for hiring minorities. Again, there was some outrage in the media and talks that this would cause division amongst coaches, executives and ownership,” Flores said, referring to the changes made to the NFL’s Rooney Rule earlier this month, which expanded the affirmative action policy that requires a minority be interviewed to coordinator positions, and a wide range of executive roles.
Floyd, a 46-year-old man, died on Monday when a Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck to pin him on the ground for nearly 9 minutes.
Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday. Floyd’s death and video of the incident has shaken the Midwest and sparked protests in many cities throughout the nation.
Arbery, was unarmed and jogging outside Brunswick, Ga., on Feb. 23 when former police officer Gregory McMichael and his son chased him. Arbery and Travis McMichael struggled over the latter’s shotgun and Arbery was shot three times. Gregory McMichael told police Arbery attacked his son, but video of the incident showed Arbery was defending himself.
The McMichaels were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault earlier this month, but their arrest came months after the incident took place, and only after video of the incident became public.
Flores, who is black and of Honduran decent, addressed the recent deaths of Floyd, Arbery and Taylor, an EMT who was shot at least eight times when three officers forcibly entered her Louisville apartment to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation.
“I bring these situations up because I haven’t seen the same OUTRAGE from people of influence when the conversation turns to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and most recently George Floyd. Many people who broadcast their opinions on kneeling, or on the hiring of minorities don’t seem to have an opinion on the recent murders of these young black men and women. I think many of them QUIETLY say that watching George Floyd plead for help is one of the more horrible things they have seen, but it’s said amongst themselves where no one can hear. Broadcasting THAT opinion clearly is not important enough.
“I lead a group of young men who have the potential to make a real impact in this world. My message to them and anyone else who wants to listen is that honesty, transparency and empathy go a long way in bringing people together and making change,” said Flores, one of four minority head coaches in the NFL. “I hope that the tragedies of the last few weeks will open our hearts and minds to a better way of communicating and hopefully create that change.”
©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)