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John Elway vows to listen, speak up in statement: 'I am not going to stay on the sidelines'

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

Denver Broncos president and general manager John Elway released a statement on Friday, his first since George Floyd’s brutal death in police custody nearly two weeks ago.

Elway vowed to continue listening and learning from his black players and colleagues, but noted that the fight against racism and police brutality requires that he speak up and get involved.

“I’ve spent the last week listening and learning from the players and coaches on our team.

“What I’ve heard from the players in particular — and watching the way they lead during this time of need — has been moving. I always thought that since I grew up in a locker room, I knew everything there was to know about understanding teammates from different backgrounds and walks of life. What I’ve realized is that I could not have been more wrong. Listening to the players and reading their social media, the strength they have shown and the experiences they have shared has been powerful. It has impacted me. I realize I have a long way to go, but I will keep listening and learning. That is the only way to grow. I truly believe a lot of good will come from the many difficult conversations that are taking place around our team, league and country.

“The way the players amplify the voices that need to be heard is more important than ever. I fully support them using their platform and influence in a positive way to create change. Recently, we’ve all heard people say that sports can be a much-needed distraction during such a challenging time. I know that the players, our team and league, can be so much more than that. We can all be part of the solution. I also understand that my voice needs to be part of this conversation, too. I am not going to stay on the sidelines. Everyone has a responsibility to help those who are hurting. I am joining with the players, coaches, and our organization in speaking up against racism, police brutality, and any injustice in the black community.”

Elway’s first statement about systemic racism was certainly better than the one Broncos head coach Vic Fangio gave on Tuesday. During an interview, Fangio said that he didn’t believe discrimination or racism were problems in the NFL.

“I don't see racism at all in the NFL,” Fangio said. “I don't see discrimination in the NFL.”

Fangio released a statement the following day, apologizing for his previous remarks and admitting that his experience in the NFL is far from universal.

Elway stayed silent on the killing of George Floyd for quite awhile, releasing his statement several days after numerous NFL teams, players, coaches, and GMs had spoken on the issue. But if that time allowed Elway to speak to Broncos players and avoid making the same mistakes Fangio did, then it was worth it.

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