Bruce Arians has always been considered one of the NFL's most progressive thinkers, not just on the field as it pertains to Xs and Os, but in creating opportunities for minorities and women in the game. He had three African-American coordinators last year, the first time that's ever happened in the league, and also a pair of full-time female coaches, another first. So the recent events that have impacted our country -- including the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody -- have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers's 67-year old head coach wondering just how far we've come.
"Yeah. I mean, it's sickening. We all know when we see something that's horrific and wrong and the events, especially the last three events, are wrong. They're murders and hopefully justice will be served quickly," he said during a Thursday morning video conference with reporters, referring to the recent killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. "There are times when I think we haven't made any progress since 1968, when the National Guard was roaming down the streets of my hometown and watching what went on, then the murder of Dr. [Martin Luther] King and Bobby Kennedy, what's really improved since then," adding, in the same breath, that, "a lot has."
Arians may be disheartened by the senseless acts of violence and racism but he is, at the very least, encouraged by most of the country's response to these instances.
"I love the fact that people are upset and are raising their voices, but don't stop," he cautioned. "It's one thing to march and protest, but it's another thing to take action and when the protesting is over, I would urge everybody to take action and do something positive to help the situation. Don't just go back to being silent because then it's going to happen again."
Arians addressed his team about the situation, encouraging dialogue and allowing those who wanted to speak the opportunity to do so. He also noted it is a little more difficult because of the virtual nature of this offseason and the lack of face-to-face meetings, however that isn't stopping him from trying to expand both his and the team's horizons with regards to the matters at hand.
"I've been researching the last couple of days for something I can do more," Arians said. "And I found a website, [called joincampaignzero.org], and I joined up and trying to send that message to all our players might be something they're interested in and try to help change it more than just what we've done so far," he said. "The other thing that just sickens me is there were over 20 children killed at the hands of people looking after them last month, and that hasn't changed enough either. Child abuse is still something that's rapid and prejudice and social injustice is still ... There's so much more to do and that's not getting done."
Arians has proven he will take action. He's hoping others will follow.