BEREA, Ohio (WJW)– Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is encouraging his players to get involved in calls for social change that followed in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
Stefanski, who spent his entire NFL coaching career with the Minnesota Vikings, was asked about the issue several times during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
As Browns players learn a new system over Zoom and navigate football during coronavirus, the first-year head coach has a message to his team.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time talking about social justice and my advice to all of the guys is get in the arena,” Stefanski said.
“There’s been some frustration among all of our guys. But I promise there’s been a very unified message from all of our guys that they want to be a part of this change.”
He said he knows the team isn’t going to solve these problems over Zoom, that’s why he wants his guys to have the resources to get out and act. Players were given reading materials, podcasts and lists of places to donate. They’ve also been encouraged to attend peaceful protests.
Stefanski said he and his sons went to a demonstration with Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff in Avon over the weekend, organized to bring attention to racism and the inequalities of the criminal justice system. Expect these two coaches to team up more on social issues in the future.
Stefanski told reporters he doesn’t want to promote himself, he wants to promote the message. He’s among more than 1,400 players, coaches and executives from the NFL, NBA and MLB to sign a letter urging Congress to pass the Ending Qualified Immunity Act. Qualified immunity was initially intended to protect police from frivolous lawsuits, but over time morphed into a way for courts to dismiss brutality lawsuits.
“The time for debate about the unchecked authority of the police is over; it is now time for change,” the letter reads.
You’ll find several Browns players on the petition, including Odell Beckham Jr., Joel Bitonio, Myles Garrett, Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield and Larry Ogunjobi.