SALT LAKE CITY — Andy Reid harkened back to something his parents taught him when sharing his approach to the racial issues impacting the United States.
“We’re sitting here with this push on Black Lives Matter, and absolutely they matter. I think it’s a beautiful thing. I’m in complete support with them,” the Kansas City Chiefs coach said during a video conference call with media Wednesday.
“I believe in communication. I believe in what my parents taught me about at times like this: you have large ears. You sit, you listen and you learn, and you become better. That’s where I’m at.”
Reid, the former BYU player and grad assistant who’s now a longtime NFL coach and recent Super Bowl champion, spent most of his time Wednesday addressing questions about the current atmosphere in the U.S. and the NFL regarding racial inequality. It was his first press availability since protests began taking place around the country following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Two of Reid’s top athletes in Kansas City — quarterback Patrick Mahomes and safety Tyrann Mathieu — were part of a video released last week that featured NFL players calling for action from the league on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Reid showed his support for both players sharing their voices.
“I appreciate Patrick and Tyrann for what they did and standing up, making a statement that allows all of us to be in a better place where love is first and we can surround all of ourselves with great people. And most of all, respect the people we come in contact with,” he said.
Mahomes explained why he chose to become a part of the video.
“It was a cumulation of seeing all this happen and wanting it to stop and wanting us to find a better way of preventing these instances that happen,” he said during a press conference Wednesday. “It’s not that one of (those deaths) was more significant than the other. It was just all of it happening and me feeling like, ‘Enough is enough, we’ve got to do something about this.’
“I was was blessed to have this platform. Why not use it?”
The video project was spearheaded by New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas and included Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, DeAndre Hopkins, Jamal Adams, Jarvis Landry and Stephen Gilmore, among others.
“(Thomas) actually needed a couple more guys that he was just trying to see who had the most influence, who would be willing to put their name out there,” Mathieu said Wednesday during a press conference. “It was kind of good to see a bunch of guys with great influence throughout the NFL be a part of that. I think our social responsibility, I think it goes far beyond the football field.”
The NFL responded with a video of commissioner Roger Goodell issuing an apology, along with a written message: “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange”
We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
On Thursday, the NFL announced it would commit $250 million over 10 years to a fund to combat systemic racism and support the battle against racial injustices faced by African-Americans, while adding it would use its media properties to raise awareness and promote education on social justice issues.
“The NFL and our clubs will continue to work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement,” the league said in a statement.
In February, Reid led the Chiefs to victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV. That win gave Reid his first Super Bowl ring after 21 seasons as a head coach in the NFL, and was the first title for the Kansas City organization in 50 years. The coach shared appreciation for his current position with the Chiefs organization and being able to work with the players there.
“This world is a great thing. I’m glad Heavenly Father has given me a chance to be here, first of all. And there’s a reason why our players in the National Football League get so excited to come to work every day,” he said.
“... I get fired up every day because I get to work with our guys, and I get to see how much they thrive on life and competition and just the greatness they bring every day. I always wish that everybody could feel that. That’s what our guys want. They want to take this and allow others to feel it. We’ve got to be open-minded and open-hearted to do this.”
“This younger generation, they are studs. They believe in themselves, they believe in each other and they believe in equality.” — Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid
Mahomes, the Super Bowl LIV MVP, expressed his desire to do what he can to improve racial inequality.
“I know I have this platform, I know not everyone will agree with it,” Mahomes said. “But I’m going to do my best to make this world a better place and this is the right moment to do it.”
Mathieu echoed those sentiments.
“I don’t think the intention of the video was to be heroes,” he said. “I think ultimately, we saw ourselves as the guys to say something. I know for a lot of us it’s been going on for a while, this problem. Most of us would consider this the second time around. The first time around a lot of us didn’t speak up. A lot of us weren’t vocal, for many reasons. I just think right now, collectively, everybody just wants to see everything pushed forward the right way. I think it’s important.”
The coach also shared his belief in the younger generation to make a positive, lasting impact in the world.
“This younger generation, they are studs. They believe in themselves, they believe in each other and they believe in equality,” he said, while adding his own call to action. “Let’s jump in, learn and listen and let’s make this place even greater than it is right now. We have a chance to do that.”