TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians made his stance clear on Thursday, calling for society to step-up in the face of racism and social injustice.
“It’s sickening,” Arians said when asked about the death of George Floyd while in police custody. “We all know when we see something that’s horrific and wrong. The events– especially the last three events– are wrong. They’re murders and hopefully justice will be served quickly. There are times when I think we haven’t made any progress since 1968 when the National Guard was running down the streets of my hometown and watching what went down then. The murder of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy. What’s really improved since then? But a lot has. And I think right now I love the fact that people are upset and are raising their voices, but don’t stop. It’s one thing to march and protest but it’s another thing to take action. When the protesting’s over, I would urge everyone to take action. Do something positive to help the situation. Don’t just go back to being silent because then it’s going to happen again.”
Two years ago, the Buccaneers began a Social Justice Program, an initiative led by the players to address social equality. Their stance on the Bucs’ web site about this program states:
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Social Justice Program is focused on reducing barriers to opportunity in the areas of police relations, criminal justice reform, racial equality, workforce development, and youth empowerment. The Buccaneers players are committed to make a meaningful difference in the Tampa Bay community and support the larger, league-wide effort to address social justice issues.”
On that page, there are countless stories of events that Bucs players have been a part of the Tampa area.
“As an organization we’ve done a great job with our Social Justice Program,” Arians said. “It started in 2018 and I know the guys, Ali (Marpet), Donovan (Smith), Bradley (Pinion) and Carlton (Davis), who are on that board are reaching-out to all our players to have conversations and see what, as a group, we can do to help situations. And as a group try and find some answers on what we can do as a team. But for me personally, it’s so much easier face-to-face obviously. I’ve talked to some of our young guys and some of our veterans and hopefully when we get back together, we will have some answers on what we can do to continue to improve the situation.”
Since Arians took over the team as head coach in 2019, he has made sure this is a priority with the team and organization, sharing what he’s done to educate beyond football.
“We always have meetings when things like this happen and everyone gets to voice their opinions as a collective group,” Arians said when asked about having conversations in-house about social injustice issues. “That’s for us. I think the biggest thing is us. Those things are really hard right now having to do it virtually and it’s not the same. You don’t get the same impact of being able to stand-up in front of your peers and speak your piece and have a collective, good growth moment.”
Arians said that he’s spent the past few days trying to figure out something more he can do and has joined Campaign Zero. He said he has shared that site and some of the information with his players, inviting them to do the same if it’s something they’re interested in.
Following Arians’ press conference with the media the team released a statement
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