Russell Wilson Says Seahawks Would've Joined Player Protests, Sat Out This WeekAugust 28, 2020
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson says he and his teammates would've joined professional athletes across sports by sitting out games this week to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.
Players in the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS have forced the postponement of multiple games by opting not to play to protest police brutality and racial injustice. In an appearance Friday on 710 ESPN Seattle, Wilson was asked if the Seahawks would've done the same had this taken place during the NFL season. He responded:
"Yeah, for sure. Witnessing what happened to Jacob and all the things that have added up to this, it's devastating, it's truly devasting just to watch that. This isn't like this hasn't been going on for years, that's the scary part and the sad part. The difference now is we get to see it every day because of social media and phones and everything else. The world is truly seeing the ugliness of society at times, and what is really disappointing is just knowing that we as athletes try to make a difference, and sometimes people don't want to listen and don't want to recognize that that could have been us, that could be us. That's a real reality. Us as a team, the Seahawks, we're definitely discussing what do we do next, how do we make a change, how do we cause a movement and how do we make a difference? We're in the midst of that right now.
"We don't have weeks, we don't have months, we don't have years to change it, we've got to all do it together, and we've got to do it now. We need change now. We need people to make a difference now, and we're calling on people like yourselves to help us along the way too."
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by officer Rusten Sheskey while attempting to return to his car after reportedly helping to deescalate a dispute between two women. He is expected to survive, though he is currently paralyzed from the waist down. It's unknown if the condition is permanent.
On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to leave the locker room for Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic. Instead, the team called Wisconsin's attorney general and lieutenant governor to demand justice for Blake.
The NBA would postpone the postseason shortly afterward, and the protests spread to other professional leagues.
On Friday, the NBA announced it was resuming play following an agreement between players and owners that included initiatives to fight systemic racism.
Wilson explained to 710 ESPN Seattle how the issue personally impacted him and described conversations with his father while growing up:
"I grew up being told, 'Hey son, don't put your hands in your pockets. Don't go there, don't go there, be careful.' So my awareness level was always heightened, and I never understood why when I was really young, but (did) as I got older, my teenage years and older. Now I have to be prepared to tell my kids that same thing, because it does matter. Going back to when I was getting my learner's permit and driving, my dad, I'll never forget, would tell me, 'If you get pulled over, what do you do, how do you deal with it?' It's a shame we have to do that more than anything else."
Becoming a father in recent years has led Wilson to consider what he and his teammates can do to achieve social justice moving forward:
"It's been one of the most difficult years of my life observing and knowing that I have children. I have three amazing, intelligent, athletic, talented, full-of-life, full-of-huge-huge-smile type children who just bring joy and light to the world and anybody they're ever around, and what I fear is that one day they're not here because of somebody else's insecurities, because of the lack of empathy, because of racism."