No football: Frank Reich using virtual meetings as player forum
The Indianapolis Colts have not talked football during this week’s virtual team meetings, as head coach Frank Reich has instead used them to provide a forum for players to speak out on the fallout from the death of George Floyd and the underlying issues of police brutality and systemic racism.
According to a report from Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star, Reich used his available virtual time with players — two-hour Zoom sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday — to allow players to express themselves and their pain and frustration over Floyd’s death on May 25 while in custody of Minneapolis police.
Perhaps to no surprise, the meetings were incredibly emotional, as Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke relayed.
“There were a lot of tears … I think for a lot of players on this team — players, staff, coaches — yesterday when we first had that conversation, that was probably one of the most impactful social conversations they’ve ever had in their life,” Okereke said Wednesday. “For me, easily.”
Running back Nyheim Hines made note of how the meetings provided a sense of team unity, regardless of race or ethnicity.
“It was big just for me as a player listening to it for the past two days just seeing the unity that we have with the brotherhood … What I really got out of it [was] seeing despite all the bad things going on in the world — blacks, white, all sorts of ethnicities on the football team binding together as one, all of us saying we have each other’s back,” Hines said. “It was really moving.”
Reich’s decision to put football temporarily on the back-burner follows his passionate commentary earlier in the week on the ongoing fallout of Floyd’s death when he said in part, “Our black community has bore the brunt of this injustice for far too long.”
“Cannot be silent,” Reich added. “Want to be proactive, want to do my part, and feel responsible.”
Reich certainly is taking a proactive stance to addressing the issue and providing a space for his players to feel heard. It’s clear the players appreciate his inspiring leadership in this moment.