NFL community reacts to death of George Floyd

A growing number of NFL players around the country are speaking out on social media about the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck earlier this week.

Hennepin County (Minn.) Attorney Mike Freeman said Friday that Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, after the office gathered enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Floyd's death has sparked national outrage after a citizen video capturing the events went viral.

Veteran tight end Ben Watson was on Good Morning Football on Monday and urged people to channel their anger despite these daunting times.

"I think all of us, hearing you all, are angry. There's so much anger and pain across the country from people of all stripes. And it's important to acknowledge that. But also as a believer, as a Christian, it's important to understand how to funnel and how to channel that anger. The Bible says, 'In our anger do not sin.' And the reason why I wrote about that is because that's what I'm struggling with. We mention Twitter and we mention Facebook and so many times I look at those platforms and I want to lash out at people and call them names that my momma didn't teach me to tell them. And deservedly so, and sometimes there's a place for those things, but I'm reminding myself, and all of us, that even in our anger, in our disgust, in our pain, in our hurt, we don't extend that and return anger and turn that anger into demonizing or diminishing or calling names to certain people."

Falcons owner Arthur Blank issued the following statement Saturday:

"A number of events over the last couple of weeks have reminded us again that the long, worthy quest for equal justice, civility and unity in America is far from over. People are scared and in pain. Their frustration is real, and it must be acknowledged and addressed. More must be done to address systemic racism. More must be done to address the underlying issues that have led to these incidents across the country. More must be done to bring people together through meaningful change.

"The public discourse on these and other issues is too divisive, too political. These are not political issues, they are human issues that need serious, earnest attention from leaders and citizens alike who understand that diversity is our strength and fair treatment is everyone's right. Open, honest dialogue is needed on a much greater scale. It is my hope that we take this terrible moment in our history to elevate that conversation toward productive action and lasting, positive change. Peaceful protests of the past have led to new ways forward. Lawlessness, vandalism and intentionally upending the peace with any form of violence has never been productive and is not the answer. We must not accept or condone violence in any way. And to be sure, Atlanta is better than what we saw in the actions of a few last night.

"Together we will rise above this on the strength of what has always made Atlanta great -- its people, its leaders of past and present and its unique culture that is welcoming to all. Our Family Foundation and the rest of our businesses here in Atlanta and elsewhere remain committed to being part of the solution."

Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula put out the following statement Monday:

"We are saddened and angered by the actions of those involved in the senseless of George Floyd. We stand with and will continue to work with those dedicated to eradicating racism and inequality. We stand with those peacefully protesting. We stand against those who are motivated by hatred and violence. We pray for the victims and their families and ask you to join us to help foster a community that is focused on love and equality."

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey released the following statement Monday:

"A week ago another unarmed African-American man died at the hands of a white police officer. We are witnessing the anger and frustration play out in protests across the nation, including Chicago. We must do more than wring our hands and hope it doesn't happen again. As an organization, we have addressed it internally by offering unconditional support to our family of staff, coaches and players, and today Ryan Pace and Coach Nagy spent the allotted two hours of team meeting time listening to and healing together with our players and the coaching staff. Through our voice, our actions and our resources, it is our obligation to lead. We will continue to work with our player-led social justice committee to provide funding and exposure to local organizations dedicated to empowering communities that have been oppressed for far too long. We're proud to support organizations like BUILD Chicago, I Grow Chicago, My Block, My Hood, My City, and Youth Guidance, among others, who are doing great work in these communities and we encourage fans to partner with us in supporting them. Our commitment is to continue to be an active participant in change."

Steelers president Art Rooney II released the following statement Wednesday:

"Over the last week, we have witnessed the anger and frustration in our city and around the country relating to the killing of George Floyd and the recent deaths of African-American men and women. We have also witnessed the good in so many people who have peacefully expressed their concerns.

"I am proud to hear the voices of many of our players who have spoken out against racism and injustice and called for unity. As an organization, we will continue to listen to our players, coaches, alumni and leaders in our community and work together to bring awareness and change in the effort to create a more fair and equal community."

Saints owner Gayle Benson put out a statement Monday night that read in part "there are no written words, nor the timing of those words that can properly honor the life of George Floyd. We stand against police brutality in any form. Statements are words; unified action towards a solution is what needs to come from this now."

Benson announced that the Saints and NBA's Pelicans organizations created a Social Justice Leadership Coalition featuring Saints linebacker Demario Davis and Lonzo Ball and J.J. Reddick of the Pelicans.

"I welcome any of our other players to join as well," Benson wrote. "Our goal will be to advocate for issues of change when and where we are able to in black and brown communities. Hopefully our work will be a model for others. They will have my full support."

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie issued the following statement on Tuesday: "I have spent a great deal of time over the last few days reflecting. Listening to my own heart, listening to others. At times, I have too many words. At times, I have no words. But silence is not an option.

"I am heartbroken and repulsed. There are no words strong enough to describe the horrific deaths and injustices that the black community continues to endure.

"We as a human race are valiantly struggling in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in our country, we have been battling a relentless social pandemic for our entire history.

"Systemic racism, discrimination, violence and oppression of minorities -- it has been our past and it is our present. It remains who we are. We need to be honest with ourselves and own that.

"We are all part of the solution. It starts with us. We need to look inward and open our hearts. We need to ask ourselves and others, what can we do to help?

"Our hearts give us the capacity to have compassion, empathy, humility, tolerance, love and caring for others who may look or sound different from us. That's what makes us fully human: the capacity to listen. Support one another. And then listen some more.

"Many of us, myself included, cannot truly understand the burden of a weight we have never had to carry through life. We must at least try, as best we can, to imagine ourselves as the person who is hurting, neglected and oppressed.

"It is our shared responsibility to address the pain and combat systemic racism. There is so much we can all do to improve our unequal system of justice, our schools and our communities. This is a time for leadership. A time for us to be united in action.

"I am both encouraged and inspired listening to our players and so many others who are dedicated to coming together as people who embrace our shared humanity. We must all continue to have these discussions and turn them into concrete action in order to help foster lasting social change. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, I am dedicated to engaging in dialogue with community leaders, committing our resources to support organizations working on reform, and using our platform to play an active role in the change we must achieve.

"By working together, the power resides in all of us to choose less hate and more love, with open hearts every day of our lives."

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt to reporters Wednesday:

Tom Brady posted an image of Floyd with the hashtag #JUSTICEFORFLOYD to his Instagram story Thursday.

Bears coach Matt Nagy, appearing Monday on Good Morning Football, delivered the message of "togetherness" that he's approaching his team with.

"I think that as you go through these situations, it's very important to listen, it's very important to be honest, open. You know, obviously all our thoughts and prayers with all the families effected most recently, with George Floyd's family. Our prayers are for this country and the people. I reached out to several of our players and our leaders this weekend and just let them know that No. 1, that they have my 100 percent support. I got their back, 100 percent. And they needed to know that, No. 1. No. 2 was I was just going to listen and just be quiet, let them talk and I thought those conversations with the guys I was able to talk to went really well. It was great just listening to them and where they're at. We talked about togetherness and being unified. Obviously, there's a lot bigger picture to what's going on right now. But what we can control right now, within our building, is how we do things with the Chicago family and the Chicago Bears family. And so togetherness is one way and that's listening to others. And making sure that you have healthy discussions. There's gonna be different opinions, but to listen and do it together in the end."

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