INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts players Jacoby Brissett and Zaire Franklin, as well as head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard, issued a statement after Friday's practice, expressing why the team decided not to practice on Thursday to instead focus on action items to directly address racial injustices.
Here are those statements, which you can also watch in their entirety above:
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett
"On behalf of the players, team, coaches, the staff, the organization, we're here to say we're hurt. We're hurt because we feel the pain of not only our Black teammates, but our Black community. We understand that we have to use our platform — not only individually, but collectively as an organization. We want it to be known that yesterday wasn't a day off, it wasn't a day for us to go home and say, 'We didn't practice.' For us, yesterday was a full workday. Obviously it got out regarding our efforts to get everyone here registered to vote, in which we had 100-percent participation. But we use it as a day to reflect on those Zoom calls we had this offseason; to reflect on the emotions we endured and those conversations that we all pledged to help, not only uplift our teammates, but our community. We understand that our job rewards us with a platform to pour into our resources, our relationships, to not only make change on a surface level, but to use the relationship and the communication that we have with others that can help change, and deep-rooted the change. As an organization, leadership, we plan to take full advantage of those resources. We also use yesterday to strategically plan and map out how this course 2020 team will impact our community. Within this map, they aren't wants, needs and requests; there're demands and commands that we plan to stand by."
Linebacker Zaire Franklin
"Like Jacoby just said, we didn't use yesterday as just a day off or use it as a day of action. We understand our role and our country as professional athletes and understand that as our responsibility and our duty as to inspire and encourage change, not only in our own community, but also throughout our country. By mapping out our plan for 2020 yesterday, we want to focus on five key areas: first being voting. We want to focus on not only getting as many people registered as possible, getting it to the point where they're able to get to places where they could vote and voting centers open up encouraging and awareness for voting centers throughout Indianapolis. We also want to make sure that it's accessible for everybody. The second area we want to focus on is community police engagement. And we want to help try to mend that relationship and our community in Indianapolis between minorities in Indianapolis, as well as the police force. The third area we're going to focus on deals with food for low income and less fortunate areas in Indianapolis, by trying to help have food drives and then support them in any way as possible. And lastly, we want to have a major impact and double our efforts in supporting IPS, the Indianapolis Public Schools System, by trying to work closely with commissioner Aleesia Johnson and trying to help her and support her in any way as possible. Like Jacoby said, these are actions, these are demands, these are things that we know we're going to accomplish, and we look forward to our journey this year. Thank you."
Head coach Frank Reich
"Back in the spring, when we came out of our three days of meetings, one message was really clear: that talk isn't going to be enough. Discussions are important, conversations need to be had, but more than anything, we need action. And it needs to be systemic in our organization through everybody from start to finish. We said we were not going to be passive. We weren't going to be neutral. And I think what you've seen demonstrated by our players and what you'll see demonstrated by our organization is a focused fight against injustice, particularly systemic racism, but also as our players are saying, to help those less fortunate in these areas with food drives with education. You'll see a sustained and a focused fight from head to toe of our organization."
General manager Chris Ballard
"We talked a lot about it in the spring, but we will not remain silent on the issues at hand. The social injustice that is still in our today's society will not be tolerated. I can't tell you enough how proud I am of these young men. They understand that it's got to be more than words and it's about action. It's about making a real difference in our communities, and do it one person at a time. This organization will stand behind them and support as we move going forward, and they're going to make a difference each and every day."