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Kliff Kingsbury Supports Players' Fight Against Racial Injustice

Cardinals coach listened to their plight during meetings last week

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said hearing from his players this week about race was an enlightening experience.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury said hearing from his players this week about race was an enlightening experience.

The Cardinals players who have been outspoken since the death of George Floyd have Kliff Kingsbury's support, the second-year coach said Monday.

Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins, Patrick Peterson and Kenyan Drake are just a few of the Cardinals who have advocated for racial equality in the aftermath of Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.

Kingsbury said the Cardinals addressed the incident and had ensuing conversations about race during videoconference meetings last week.

"As an organization, we want (the players) to know we support them," Kingsbury said. "From the top down. (Owner) Michael (Bidwill) has called me multiple times to talk through things: 'How can we help? How can we do different things? What resource can we be to our players?' We want to be there for them."

Kingsbury confirmed he gave the Cardinals the day off last Thursday, in part for the players to spend time with their families, but also to honor the memory of Floyd.

"As an organization, we recognize what happened to George Floyd was a terrible tragedy," Kingsbury said. "It was a murder. People (involved) need to be held accountable, and I think they will. The racial injustice, the police brutality toward people of color, it has to stop. We're all hopeful this is the catalyst for that change."

Kingsbury said the most passionate conversations about race came within position group meetings, a more intimate setting which allowed players ample opportunity to express their feelings.

"A lot of guys -- talking to the position coaches -- shared some really moving experiences and experiences that were tough for people to hear," Kingsbury said. "But I think it was good for all of our team to have that type of setting."

Fitzgerald, a Minneapolis native, recently penned an essay about race which ran in the New York Times. Hopkins and Peterson were featured in a video alongside many other black NFL stars that implored the league to speak out against racism.

Kingsbury said he was "very proud" of their activism.

"I'm honored to work with guys like that," Kingsbury said. "As we know, Fitz is kind of what we all strive to be as human beings, when you look at what he's accomplished on and off the field. The way he carries himself, the way he treats people. So it didn't surprise me he had such a poignant piece. Hopefully that can touch some lives and inspire others.

"Pat and Hop are very passionate about this cause as well. To be able to work with guys like that, that care about others and want to push change, want to change the racial injustice, that's powerful stuff."

Kingsbury said the team has not discussed the possibility of protests during the national anthem, but "obviously we're going to support our guys. They know that."

While the news cycle can shift quickly in the social media age, Kingsbury believes the conversations about race will be long-lasting and substantive.

"I think It will definitely be an ongoing conversation, an ongoing process," Kingsbury said. "The NFL, the Arizona Cardinals, us as a staff, will definitely encourage that. We want to learn. We want to listen first, and learn, and try to be better from it. I definitely think this is a conversation that will carry on deep into our season."

As a white man coaching in a majority-black league, Kingsbury said it's important for him to listen to what the players have to say.

"I'm inspired by them," Kingsbury said. "I'm enlightened by their life experiences. It was a difficult week, but it was a productive week, as well."

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