The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and resulting unrest have emotionally affected countless Americans, but it especially impacted Melvin Gordon.
Gordon, a native of Kenosha, stood in front of a room full of his Denver Broncos teammates Thursday and attempted to address the situation, which hit incredibly close to home. He later explained those feelings to ESPN Madison's Jim Rutledge.
"This is the problem," Gordon said. "You try to find and justify a reason for shooting a man seven times in the back. I just don't understand -- in front of the kids, friends, family -- and when there's three guys there. It's not like he's putting up a fight or anything. It's just, there are better ways to go about that than just pulling a trigger on a man.
"I was so emotional because I have family that was out there that seen the shooting, and that could have been them. That could have been one of my family members getting shot in the back seven times. That could have been my family shot in the middle of the street -- one of my family, one of my friends. And that was just so disheartening. ... It hurts even more when hits at home -- when it's at home and in your own backyard and it's your people."
Because of the combination of training camp and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon can't return to Kenosha to be with his family during a very painful time.
He mentioned his own experiences with police, saying "the crazy thing is I've met more good cops than I've met bad," which he wondered aloud if it had to do with his status as a famous professional football player. That doesn't mean Gordon hasn't been fearful in his own interactions with police, though.
"But I'll be scared. I'll be scared to make the wrong move," he said. "I'm not blind to seeing what's going on. I see it and I'll be nervous, but most of the cops that I've had an encounter with, they've actually been great guys. Nothing [like] what I've seen on social media, but that still doesn't take away from the fear when I get pulled over making a wrong turn or driving a little too fast or in a car doing whatever, whatever the case may be, that I'm not afraid that if I make the wrong move, it might be my last move."
Ultimately, despite the worldwide protests and the public showings of solidarity in support of ending systemic racism and police brutality, things don't appear to be changing fast enough, or if at all, Gordon said.
"We're trying to do things the right way, and it just seems as if nothing is coming across good enough because yet we continue to see actions like that," Gordon said. "It's just sad, man. It's just sad, because you're putting Black people in a corner and it's just like, 'Man, our hands is tied. ... What do you want us to do at this point?'"
"It's just trying to change people's minds at this point," Gordon added. "One of our coaches, he talked and he said, 'Martin Luther King tried to do this; it's just a battle we've been battling with for years.' ... We might not see change in our generation, but what our coach mentioned today [was that] we'll have kids, I'll have kids, and hopefully the change can be for them. Things don't happen overnight. We can't get people to realize things overnight. But we have to take steps toward that."