Kliff Kingsbury made the decision to cancel the Cardinals’ practice Thursday before he even met with his team. It was, he and others within the organization decided, the right thing to do by allowing players to “use the day to help make that change they want to see.”
“As players and coaches we have a tremendous platform and we can help keep the spotlight on the fact that, as a country, we have issues when it comes to social injustice and racism,” Kingsbury said, via Darren Urban of the team website. “We have a problem here. People pay attention when Doc Rivers speaks. He’s a guy I know I admire and look up to in this profession and the other night the way he put it, it was so powerful and so eloquent. We talked about it as a team. We have the ability to touch lives and lead by example, and that’s what we are all trying to do.”
The Cardinals were one of nine NFL teams that didn’t hold practice Thursday in light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Kingsbury said he discussed players kneeling for the national anthem with his father, Tim, a long-time football coach and a Purple Heart recipient after serving in Vietnam with the Marines. Kingsbury’s father concluded it’s important to respect individual viewpoints on the subject.
“You’ve got to understand, at its core, what this is really about. It’s always been about drawing attention to the social injustice that continues to take place,” Kingsbury said. “We saw it again this week with Jacob Blake. It’s about increasing awareness that racism exists, police brutality against people of color continues to happen, and let’s not confuse it with something else and make the narrative different.
“My biggest takeaway from talking to my dad is that kneeling doesn’t reflect a lack of patriotism or respect for the military in any way, just like standing during the anthem doesn’t mean you’re OK with racism or social injustice. It’s important to respect and understand that. These are important issues that need to be addressed, and important conversations that need to be had. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to be around a great group of guys that have enlightened me – hearing their stories and their struggles. Those conversations will continue throughout the year. I just hope we can all continue to push in the right direction.”