Through four years as the Eagles’ quarterback, Carson Wentz has avoided taking sides on anything that might be construed as a “political” or “controversial” concern. But on Thursday, Wentz joined the flood of public figures weighing in on the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
Wentz seemed to be speaking from the heart, pouring out nearly 200 words on Twitter about “institutional racism,” declaring that he “can’t even fathom what the black community has to endure on a daily basis.”
“I’ll never know the feeling of having to worry about my kids going outside because of their skin color,” Wentz wrote. “However, I do know that we are all equal at the foot of the cross, and Jesus taught us to value others’ lives like they were our own – regardless of skin color.”
Previously, Wentz limited his activism to his religious AO1 charity foundation, which operates a free food truck, among other community efforts.
Tight end Zach Ertz is Wentz’s favorite receiving target and close friend, who shares Wentz’s religious outlook. Ertz followed with a similar tweet, co-signed by his wife, soccer star Julie Ertz.
“What I do know is that I am so unbelievably sorry,” Ertz wrote, after saying he’d concluded he’d been selfish, struggling for the perfect thing to say and saying nothing because he hadn’t been able to find those words. “I am sorry for the pain and hurt the African-American community has endured by another human and more than anything I am sorry that you feel you are alone in this situation.”
Ertz, like Wentz, referenced his Christian faith, saying that he felt he was not granted grace “because of my skin color!! It was solely because He loves us! We are all created equal, period, and I am so sorry that this system has perpetuated lies that we are not.”
Neither statement bore any marks of having been written by a publicist -- the wording seemed true to each player’s voice, and similarly anguished.
For Wentz, a white North Dakotan leading a predominantly black team, this might have been an important step. He has passed on previous opportunities to express solidarity with teammates who have spoken out on racial violence; defensive end Chris Long was the only white Eagle who stood with safety Malcolm Jenkins during the national anthem when Jenkins protested police violence against African-Americans.
In his podcast, The Green Light, Long spoke Thursday night about Wentz’s tweet. Long noted that broadcaster and former NFL star Shannon Sharpe this week implored “big-name quarterbacks” to speak up, and Long also noted that Wentz’s tweet included the words “institutional racism.”
“He typed those words out. That was really important to me,” Long said. “I got chills thinking about it. It’s so bare minimum, but that’s all we need. We just need guys to address it.”
Wentz has not commented on a favorite topic of many players concerned about race and inequality, the apparent exiling of former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The QB who initiated national anthem kneeling protests has not been signed since he opted out of his contract in March 2017 after the 49ers said they planned to release him.
Kaepernick, by the way, also tweeted about Minneapolis on Thursday: “When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction. The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance. We have the right to fight back! Rest in Power George Floyd.”
Unlike in previous such situations, there seem to be very few people who aren’t troubled by the death of Floyd, who pleaded that he couldn’t breathe while Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled with one knee on Floyd’s neck. A bystander recorded the encounter.
In a tweet, Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin called upon Hennepin County district attorney Mike Freeman to resign. Chauvin and three other officers on the scene at the time of Floyd’s arrest have been fired. On Friday, Freeman announced that Chauvin had been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.