Anthony Lynn had to have "the talk" with his son when he was 16.
He very recently had to have a similar conversation -- about how, as a black man, he must safely approach interactions with police -- with his son, now 30, amid the ongoing unrest and turmoil associated with protests of police brutality following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
The Chargers head coach hasn't put out a public statement since Floyd's death and the week of nationwide protests that have followed because he wants to do more than just speak. He did take the time to speak with the Los Angeles Times' LZ Granderson, though, and understandably didn't mince words.
Lynn said he remembers watching riots following the acquittal of four officers in the Rodney King case in 1992 and, in sitting at home in the past week and watching news coverage of the latest civil unrest, he realized "nothing has changed."
"I was in shock," Lynn recalled. "There was video evidence of them doing what we always knew they were doing. And then when they didn't find them guilty despite that evidence it made you sick. It was like, do they really care? Do we really matter?
"It was not a good feeling and I felt that way all over again watching George Floyd. We haven't gotten better at all and in some cases, hell, it might have gotten worse."
Nearly 30 years have passed since officers were videotaped beating King, put on trial for such actions and acquitted of wrongdoing. Only one of the four officers involved in Floyd's death has been arrested, which Lynn says speaks to the issues protesters are marching to address.
"First, there are so many good officers. I did a first responders commercial a couple of years ago because I respect the first responders so much," Lynn said. "They deserve so much more than what they get. They put their lives on line for us.
"But I also know it's a club like a football team and they stick together like a football team. And the good ones get a bad rap because of the bad ones. I would challenge the good ones to speak up and not be silent anymore. That's what I take away from all of this. George Floyd died with three officers right there who watched him die. It's time for good officers to speak up and not accept that anymore."
Even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lynn couldn't sit in the house anymore. He had to do something to take himself from spectator to participant, so he joined protesters in Huntington Beach. He realized in that time the group had no plan for action after the protest. They needed direction beyond publicly expressing their anger because, as Lynn said, "I don't want to be doing this again 20 years from now, and so I'm looking for ways to sit at the table and have a conversation about this broken system."
"The Chargers have done more in the community than just about any organization I've been with," Lynn continued. "I've been out in the community, talking with Mayor [Eric] Garcetti and I've been to the juvenile detention centers to encourage young men to do something positive with their life when they get out, and City Council people about making L.A. a better place.
"But this stuff that's taking place with police brutality and unarmed black men dying and white people feeling like they can use their privilege to threaten black people like that white woman did in Central Park, that's ridiculous. How do we effect that type of change? Where's the accountability for that kind of [expletive]? That's where I'm at right now. I'm angry, I'm pissed off and I don't want to just put out a pretty statement."
Instead of putting out a statement to be shared across the internet, Lynn decided to address the topic internally first, telling NFL Network's Jim Trotter the topic would take priority in his meetings with players.
"We are now! Some coaches started last week," Lynn told Trotter regarding when he would discuss recent events with his players. "My first meeting is at 4 a.m. with rookies tomorrow morning, The uprising for social justice in this country will take priority. I honestly don't know where the message willl go. It's going to be a real organic conversation and I want it to be player-driven. My hope is that we can be vulnerable with each other and a better teammate when it's all over."
Lynn knows there's plenty of work left to be done, but he hopes, as so many others hope with him, that this will be a point in history from which society collectively moves forward so that it doesn't further perpetuate the multigenerational cycle of inequity. He doesn't want to have "the talk" with his son -- or perhaps a future grandson -- again 20 years from now.
"That's why we're here," Lynn told Granderson, "to make it so we don't have to."