PHOENIX – Nearly two weeks after protests for George Floyd’s death began to spread across the country, Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said he wants the dialogue about race to continue, on his team and throughout the world.
“As an organization, we recognized what happened to George Floyd was a terrible tragedy. It was a murder,” Kingsbury said. “People accountable need to be held accountable. The racial injustice and police brutality towards people of color needs to stop, and we’re all hopeful this can be a catalyst for that to change.”
Defensive back Patrick Peterson and newly acquired wide receiver Deandre Hopkins recently were featured in a short video along with other NFL stars showcasing unity. Other Cardinals players such as running back Kenyan Drake and defensive tackle Corey Peters have been vocal on Twitter.
Kingsbury said numerous times during a Zoom call with media Monday that he was honored to work with his vocal players, and supported the decision to use their platform as professional athletes to spread a message.
“I know when I walk in that room and see the players in our team meeting, I am inspired by them. I am enlightened by them and their life experiences,” Kingsbury said.
It doesn’t stop with the players. The Cardinals staff features eight black coaches, and conversations in position meetings have been very powerful, Kingsbury said.
Players were given the day off from virtual team meetings on Thursday to honor the memory of Floyd. Kingsbury thought it would be a good opportunity for players and coaches to regroup and spend time with their families.
“I have to be a guy who listens more, learns more and understands more,” Kingsbury said. “There is so much that we can all do and being in a position of power and working with these guys, I am right at the top of that.”
Kingsbury hopes these discussions continue throughout the season.
“I think it will definitely be an ongoing conversation and an ongoing process,” Kingsbury said. “The Arizona Cardinals and us as a staff will encourage that. We want to listen first and learn and try to be better from it. This is a conversation that will carry on deep into our season.”
Kingsbury plans to continue having difficult conversations with his players, while checking in on them and their state of mind.
“That’s first and foremost, health and mental health and making sure everybody is OK,” he said.
“Football is secondary.”