Mike Vrabel said the Titans may not have been production on the field today, but Thursday was a productive day for his football team after they postponed practice in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Titans reported to St. Thomas Sports Park as usual Thursday but it was Vrabel who called for a team meeting to see how his team was feeling after another officer involved shooting with an African-American.
After meaningful conversations, tears and emotional exchanges the Titans broke for positional meetings when they decided practicing today was not the right thing to do.
“We feel that with all the recent events that’s happened in our country, not only just this year, not only the past year, but the past hundreds of years, we decided that it’s time to take a stand today.” said safety Kevin Byard, “We feel that with this moment right here, and today, with my brother Ryan (Tannehill) standing next to me and all my brothers standing behind me, we wanted to show solidarity and be unified, and say that we’re tired. We’re sick and tired of seeing the things that’s been going on, on social media for the entertainment. Seeing our Black brothers and sisters be murdered by police like it’s nothing. It’s time for a change. As I sit here and try to gather my thoughts – this is not a prepared statement. I didn’t have time to prepare a statement. I’m coming to you and I’m talking from the heart. I just had a son, just Sunday. I have a one-year-old daughter, and I have no clue what I’m going to tell them or what kind of world that they’re going to grow up in, in this country. I’m begging and pleading to the powers that may be, to please, please, we’re crying, I’m spilling my heart out to say that we need change, and we need change as soon as possible.”
Tannehill was one of the first Titans to speak out after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He said former teammate Kenny Stills helped open his eyes to the systemic racism in American and he chocked up while making his statement, “We’re tired of dealing with the systematic oppression. We’re tired of dealing with excessive force. We’re tired of seeing Black men and women die in situations where they should be walking home and spending the night with their families. It’s sickening. It’s sickening to just know that they have to worry about their kids coming home at night. I have two young kids that, because of the color of their skin, I never have to worry about if they get pulled over by a police officer if they’re going to make it out of that interaction alive, and that’s a sick fact of the world that we’re living in.”
The Titans did not take the day off though, Vrabel mapped out a 3 part plan they put into place to do their part in creating change. Vrabel said everyone on the team would be registered to vote by the end of the way, he stressed the team would make the time to make sure everyone votes in the coming election November 2nd and he also said they were establishing a program called “Zoom with a Titan”.
Vrabel stressed they can not change everyone and the way they think and that is why they are focusing their energy on the youth of Middle Tennessee while they feel like they can still reach them and make an impact.