Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN)- Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has taken his leadership to a whole new level over the past two weeks, passionately speaking out about the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, earning the respect from his teammates.
“I respect Ryan to the fullest. The fact that he’s speaking and using his voice to help black, white, indifferent or whatever, that speaks volumes about his character,” said Titans safety Kevin Byard.
Tannehill recently put up a post on his Instagram account, explaining what the movement means to him and explaining how others can educate themselves about social injustice in our country.
“It’s kind of like, enough is enough right? My eyes have been open to the privilege I’ve lived with my entire life just because the color of my skin, also the situation my friends, teammates and guys I love have been put in throughout there life purely because the color of their skin. The things they have to deal with, no man or person should have to deal with,” said Tannehill.
In a Zoom call on Wednesday, Tannehill explained that he really started to become educated on these social issues back in 2016, when Colin Kaepernick started to protest during the national anthem by taking a knee. At that time Tannehill was playing for the Miami Dolphins and he credits former teammate Kenny Stills to helping him ‘open up his eyes.’
“He was able to educate me about a lot of it and I’m really thankful for the conversations we’ve had along the way. He gave me a bunch of resources, books like “The New Jim Crow,” and then I just started digging more and more into it as time went on,” said Tannehill.
Tannehill said that he’s had conversations with past and present teammates and admits it was shocking to hear that so many of them have had to deal with situations regarding racism, police brutality and other systemic issues. With the unfortunate death of George Floyd, he feels like the country is finally starting to see things from a different lens.
“More and more people are getting an awakening to the reality of the situation and how deep it really is. There’s so many layers to it and it’s been happening for far too long. If you’re a white person, you don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis. It’s easy to go about your life not worrying about it. I think people are waking up,” said Tannehill.
But even with the recent signs of change, he wants to make sure people know there is still work to be done, there are more steps to take before we see permanent change.
Tannehill added, “The first step is awareness and education. Once we can have that education and awareness, we can work together toward finding that equality that I’d hope we all want. I just have to be true to who I am and support what I know is right. I am going to fight for what I believe is right.”
When asked about kneeling during the National Anthem this upcoming season, Tannehill said he’s not sure what things will look like this fall, but he knows that conversation will eventually take place with his teammates.