Bill Belichick on Friday applauded his New England Patriots players for their activism.
Speaking in a video conference with reporters, Belichick was asked what kind of internal discussions about race and injustice the team has held in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting. He declined to reveal the details of those conversations but said he is “so proud” of his team.
“I?ll keep the things that happened within the team, private within the team,” Belichick said. “That?s kind of the forum that we had, so I?ll maintain the integrity of that. But I?ve certainly learned a lot, continue to learn a lot. We have an incredible group of players. I?m so proud of this team and the players we have on it — the way that they?re involved in each other?s lives as teammates, the way that they raise their families and are involved in the community on a number of different levels.
“We?ve always prided ourselves in doing things right and not only being a good football team, but being a pillar in the community. That continues to be our goal and our expectation, and I?m so proud of what our players do on all those levels.”
Several Patriots players have spoken out in news conferences and on social media since Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times in the back last Sunday by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis.
Quarterback Cam Newton lamented that “extremely disgusting” events like Blake’s shooting continue to occur in America. All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore expressed his “frustration and sadness” over what he called “human rights violations.”
Team captains Devin McCourty and James White and veteran corner Jason McCourty all addressed topics of police brutality and racial injustice Thursday after the Patriots were not among the nine NFL teams to practice in response to the shooting.
“I feel like right now, myself and I know a lot of other guys I?ve talked to in the locker room right now, we?re just lost, man,” Jason McCourty said during an emotional 16-minute video conference. “It?s almost like a sense of hopelessness.”
During a June ceremony recognizing Devin McCourty’s work in the Boston community, Belichick pledged to take a more active role in conversations about social issues.
“Following (McCourty’s) lead, and the example of other incredible men on our team, I look forward to increasing my role in this process,” Belichick said at the time. “Healthy discussion leads to actions. And actions that (McCourty has) brought to the forefront have resulted in progress.”