Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford witnessed racism firsthand this past offseason while working out with his four Black teammates in Georgia. In his contribution post for The Players' Tribune, Stafford said one week he went to work out with wide receiver Danny Amendola and had no problems.
The following week, Stafford prearranged the field for the work out -- but this time he showed up with four Black teammates and he was immediately asked to leave. "We were just starting to dump all the footballs out on the field and some of the guys were still stretching when a gentleman came out and told us that we were trespassing -- and to leave immediately.
We didn't even have our cleats on yet. I remember I was standing there in my socks, just kind of stunned and confused, like, What?" Stafford wrote. "But he didn't even want to listen. We were still gathering up the footballs and trying to figure out another spot where we might be able to go when the gentleman pulled out his cellphone.
"He said, 'I'm calling the police.' After everything that we've witnessed over the last few months, and how situations can escalate for no reason at all ... and here the police are being called. "We were there for maybe 10 minutes total.
Nobody said a bad word to him. And he still called the police and told them that we were being 'uncooperative' and 'not leaving the property.' " Stafford believes that wouldn't happen if he and Amendola were alone again Stafford absolutely believed that the reason he and his teammates were asked to leave the field was because four of them were African-American.
"The only difference is what we all know in our hearts. Danny and I are white. We don't get the cops called on us in those situations. We don't immediately get called uncooperative. And even if Danny and I somehow did get the cops called on us, we all know how that interaction would've gone," Stafford added.
Stafford also revealed the reaction of his teammates. "Things like, 'Sorry you had to miss practice' or 'Sorry you have to deal with this stuff, man,'" Stafford wrote. "The fact that anyone would feel sorry for me, or be thinking about a football practice at a time like that, really speaks volumes.
"There are still people in this country who just want sports to be a distraction, and that's their right. But I beg to differ."