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Colts GM Chris Ballard: 'I can't sit here and remain silent'

As protests of police brutality continue across the nation in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, it's impossible to deny that the United States is experiencing a moment in its history.

The hope is it ends up being a moment of positive and perhaps even transformative change. Colts general manager Chris Ballard knows it has at the very least gotten his attention and forced him to acknowledge the systemic issues in this nation. It has also forced him to look in the mirror, through which he realized he's had the privilege of ignoring those same systemic issues because they don't affect him.

"I can't sit here and remain silent because that's exactly what we've done every time our black community screams and yells for help," Ballard said during a Thursday unscheduled videoconference call with reporters. "We have to end social injustices and racial inequalities. We have to end the police violence against our black communities. Black lives matter. I don't understand why that's so freaking hard for the white community to say. Black lives matter.

"I've been ignorant. I've been ignorant to the real problem, and I'm ashamed of that. I just came to the realization here over the last 10 days with some really hard, difficult conversations that's we've had as an organization, as a team, with my family, with my sons. And I've been ignorant to the real problem."

Ballard knows his overlooking of the inequities faced by African Americans isn't just a problem with his approach, but a significant issue with a large portion of the country. He said he realized that through his own ignorance, his children were left uninformed "about what's going on in our country ... and they have no idea. And that's my fault."

As someone who holds a position of influence with a platform, he's decided to stop talking football or sticking to sports during this time and instead come out with a strong, unprompted and unprepared statement on the matter at hand.

"See, this is not a black problem, this is a white problem," Ballard said. "This is an issue that we have to talk about and we can't sugarcoat it, we can't sugarcoat our way out of this. We can't go back into our bubble, because that's what we've always done. We've always gone right back into our bubble and we've never really listened.

"We haven't listened, I haven't listened. We haven't listened as a country. White America refuses to listen. We want to keep things the same and it can't, or we'll continue down the same paths we're continuing down. And that has to change, and nothing will change until we do that. I'm ashamed of that."

Ballard's first step has been to speak with those closest to him -- family, friends, colleagues and the members of the roster he's assembled in Indianapolis -- to better understand the whole situation. He said his Colts "have guys hurting, and I didn't know that."

But one of the more notable members of the team gave Ballard a simple explanation that he said will drive him to act, starting with his comments Thursday.

"I thought Jacoby Brissett put it best: 'You're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem,'" Ballard said, via The Athletic's Stephen Holder. "I want to do my part. My family is going to do its part."

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