Russell Wilson dismissed football talk during a meeting with the media Wednesday, noting "none of that matters" compared to the importance of speaking out against racial injustice.
"When you think about the idea of Black Lives Matter, they do matter," Wilson said, via ESPN. "The reality is that, me as a black person, people are getting murdered on the street, people are getting shot down, and the understanding that it's not like that for every other race. It's like that in particular for the black community. I think about my stepson, I think about my daughter, I think about our new baby boy on the way, and it's staggering to watch these things happen right in front of our faces, so I have a heavy heart right now."
Speaking for the first time since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, which sparked nationwide protests against police violence and systematic racial injustice, Wilson discussed his personal experiences with racism.
"Being black is a real thing in America," Wilson said. "It's a real thing in the sense of the history and the pain, even my own family, personally."
The 31-year-old quarterback said in California in 2014 -- sometime after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl -- he was told by an older white man while in line for breakfast that, "That's not for you."
"And I said, 'Huh? Excuse me?' I thought he was joking at first," Wilson said. "My back was kind of turned. I had just come off a Super Bowl and everything else, so if somebody is talking to me that way, you think about [a different] circumstance and how people talk to you. In that moment, I really went back to being young and not putting my hands in my pocket and that experience. That was a heavy moment for me right there. I was like, man, this is really still real, and I'm on the West Coast. This is really real right now.
"That really pained my heart. But in the midst of that, what I understood was -- and [what] my dad always taught me was -- to not lash back out in that moment because then it becomes something that's hard to deal with. So I said, 'Excuse me, sir, but I don't appreciate you speaking to me that way.' He just kind of walked off. But in that little glimpse, even though it didn't turn into something, what if it did? That's the sad part about this, what we're talking about."
Wilson said that wholesale societal changes need to be made in police departments, governments and throughout society for real progress to be made.
"Not every police officer is bad by any means, but the reality is I think there needs to be a process of ... the background checks and checking on these people and constantly -- not just the first time they get hired but also throughout the whole process as they're working as well," he said. "I think there's so much there that needs to be changed."