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Von Miller pens essay for TIME on social injustice: 'Say their names'

Von Miller took some time recently to pen an essay for TIME Magazine and share his perspective on the ongoing movement to end systemic racism and police brutality.

His, like many others, involves his own experiences with racism as a black man in America. Miller began his essay by pointing out the words often used to protest the deaths of George Floyd and Eric Garner, among others, hit him especially hard because of his own history of respiratory issues.

"I can't count the times I've said, 'Momma, I can't breathe.' 'Daddy, I can't breathe.' 'Please, help me. I can't breathe,'" Miller wrote. "Every time, every single time, someone helped. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to get no help. Since George Floyd died, tears have overcome me at least once a day."

Miller's piece also included mentioning the names of those innocent black men lost to instances of brutality, which he pointed out to drive home that even as a famous NFL star, he still faces the same struggles and dangers as every other black man in America.

"I have achieved celebrity, earned great wealth, reached the pinnacle of my profession, and, yet, I am George Floyd," Miller wrote. "I am Ahmaud Arbery. I am Tamir Rice. I am Eric Garner. I am Philando Castile. I am Alton Sterling. I am Oscar Grant. I am Trayvon Martin. I am Emmett Till."

What Miller was also saying with the above paragraph is this: As a nation, we've encountered this type of injustice on many occasions for many decades. Perhaps this time, things can actually change for the better, but only if we take legitimate action.

"Many of us have seen this day coming, but let's not get it twisted," Miller wrote. "The social upheaval we are witnessing is not about one horrific incident in Minneapolis. This has been building up for years, decades, generations. We can either confront it for what it is and make it an inflection point in the arc of our nation's history, or we can become complicit in the perpetuation of our disease because we refuse to admit we are ill.

"This time may be different. I pray that it is different. This time, many of the protesters are not black. This time, the entire country is engaged. This time, the entire world has taken notice. We have really begun to talk with each other, not just "at" each other. If we can find the strength to come together as a people and fight for healing and change, then together we can enjoy the sunshine of our American ideals. If we do not choose this course, we can expect the darkness to remain."

Miller closed by acknowledging the platform afforded to him by his career as an NFL player and confirmed that he felt it was time to take action to bring the country together for a better tomorrow.

"I am not a football player named Von Miller," he wrote. "I am Von Miller -- a strong, proud, African-American who loves making kids smile, people laugh and my parents shake their heads. I also just happen to play football, which has given me a platform. My love for our country compels me to use it. My message is this: I am all in for unity, equality and justice. If you are committed to that, we can ride together. Let's goooo!

"Say their names. Hands up. Don't shoot. I can't breathe."

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