NFL

'I don't see racism at all in the NFL': Broncos head coach, execs talk race relations

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio sees racism as a problem in society as a whole, but not so much in the NFL. In a video conference call on Tuesday, he spoke out in favour of societal changes in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Players told on Zoom calls that club shares in outrage over George Floyd's death

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, right, was on Zoom calls Tuesday during which team president Joe Ellis told players the NFL club shares in the outrage over George Floyd's death last week. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

Vic Fangio sees racism as a problem in society as a whole, but not so much in the NFL.

The Denver Broncos head coach, talking Tuesday on a video conference call, spoke out in favour of societal changes in the wake of George Floyd's death. He then went on to defend the NFL's record on race.

Asked about the evolution of player activism during his NFL career, Fangio said, "I don't know that it's changed a whole lot, to be honest with you. I haven't seen a great, great change other than — I just don't think there's been a tremendous change, and I don't say that to be negative.

"I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We're a league of meritocracy. You earn what you get, you get what you earn.

"I don't see racism at all in the NFL. I don't see discrimination in the NFL. We live in a great atmosphere. Like I alluded to earlier, we're lucky. We all live together joined as one for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we'd all be great."

WATCH | Canadian athletes speak out against racism:

Canadian athletes have been speaking out against racism and for change, including tennis youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, basketball legend Steve Nash, and Olympians Kia Nurse, Karina LeBlanc and Perdita Felicien 2:38

Fangio had said earlier on the call that he "was shocked, sad and angry when I saw what the policeman [did] to a handcuffed George Floyd on his stomach that led to his death. He should be punished to the full extent of the law of the crimes he was charged with in addition to being charged with treason for failing to uphold the badge and uniform he was entrusted with … It's a societal issue that we all have to join in to correct."

He added: "The Minnesota cop failed the 99 per cent of the police that do a great job, and we are all paying a price for that. I've listened to many people talk the past few days.

'This is not a political issue'

"The one that resonated with me the most was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He also recognized that 98-99 per cent of the police do a tremendous job in tough situations and we must do all we can to correct the small percentage that don't do a great job on a daily basis. Kareem was one person talking sensibly and with solutions. This is not a political issue."

Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air. Chauvin was fired along with three other officers and faces homicide charges.

Denver is among the dozens of cities where peaceful protests during daylight hours have been followed by break-ins, stealing and clashes with police come nightfall.

WATCH | The National: Athletes share views on racism:

Athletes are voicing their opinions following the death of George Floyd. 6:38

Fangio also offered his support for Broncos safety Justin Simmons, who spoke at a peaceful protest on Sunday in Stuart, Fla., close to his hometown of Port Salerno, Fla.

Simmons, the team's 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, called for unity and non-violence.

Simmons implored a crowd to "understand that we are fighting for equality, not superiority. All lives matter when black lives matter. We pledge our allegiance to the flag for freedom and justice for all and we do not have our justice. So let's understand that. We will get it, [but] not by force."

"I thought it was great," Fangio said. "Justin is a great person, a great leader and has his head screwed on correctly. He sees the problems and how they need to be solved. He's doing it peacefully and he's searching for solutions.

'Maybe we can get out and put together a march'

"It's easy for everybody to identify the problems — we all know the problems — but we need to search for solutions. I think that Justin is one of those guys that will help us find solutions and lead us out of this mess that we're in."

According to multiple media reports, nearly 70 per cent of NFL players last season were African American. The league currently has three African American head coaches — the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin, the Los Angeles Chargers' Anthony Lynn and the Miami Dolphins' Brian Flores — plus one Latino head coach, the Washington Redskins' Ron Rivera.

Also Tuesday, Broncos president Joe Ellis told players in separate Zoom calls that the organization shares in the outrage over Floyd's death last week.

"My takeaway from it was that we have to figure out what we can do, not only as a team, but as an organization," safety Kareem Jackson said. "How can we get out and how can we impact the Denver community? Maybe we can get out and put together a march as a team or something like that."

After the Zoom calls, the Broncos tweeted, "We will stand by our players. We will lift up their voices. We can do more. We will do more."

The team also retweeted several players' personal posts, including Malik Reed's: "I have been one of the ones to not be outspoken about the things we go through, but that doesn't help create change. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone due to the wickedness of this world."

With files from The Associated Press

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