Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills says he was absolutely devastated after seeing the video of the Jacob Blake shooting. Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, all while his kids were in the car.
The Blake shooting led to protests and African-American athletes across US sports came out to call for justice in the Blake case. "I woke up, and it was the first thing I saw on my phone at 5 a.m. the next day after it happened, Stills told ESPN.
"I was upset. I was crying all the way up to practice. You're trying to process that his kids are in there, wondering if he's still alive and then seeing the other side speaking about he shouldn't have been doing this or that.
It's just a wave of emotion. I was debating if I want to go to work, if I can go to work, how to handle the situation. I felt defeated. ... In my personal situation, I had practice that day and I had a press conference that day and it was my first time speaking to the media.
... But I figure out a way to push through without shedding tears or blowing up on someone for their questions. I'm trying to do the best as an individual to be constructive, but every time it happens, it's heartbreaking."
Boycotting games an option for Stills
Stills has been one of the most active NFL players in recent years when it comes to speaking against social injustice. "One hundred percent," Stills said, when asked if he felt boycotting or striking games is an option for him this season.
"It's something that is thought about and talked about. Like you saw in the message I sent to Troy Vincent, I let him know -- what do you think is going to happen if the league doesn't take a firm stance and do something? What do you think is going to happen if police officers continue to brutalize our communities? What do you think is going to happen when we see another video of an unarmed Black person being killed on our phones during the season? Guys are going to continue to be more and more encouraged and emboldened to do action.
Especially with our election coming up, it's a rocky, roller-coaster time in our country. [The NFL and NFLPA announced Thursday in a joint statement that all NFL facilities will be closed on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3].
Our league has to do something or our players are going to take a firm stance. ... We have to understand what are the next steps and realize it's not going to be comfortable. It's not going to come from politicians. It's going to come from our local activists and organizers."