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Cardinals Embracing BLM Movement

Arizona Cardinals v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Background: HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals breaks up a pass intended for DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on November 19, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

Over the past year, not only have the Arizona Cardinals integrated a high voltage 21st century offense, they have incorporated a 21st century modus operandi within the entire organization which is enabling them to showcase exemplary leadership during the Black Lives Matter movement.

From the top of the organization down, the Cardinals are very well equipped to embrace social and civil evolution.

In one of the numerous outstanding posts from a large host of ROTB members over the past week, Leeskicitizen wrote in the “Sam Echo: Roger That” thread:

Well, besides the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Arizona Cardinals have been one of the most progressive teams in the NFL in hiring competent black coaches at every level (Denny Green anybody). We hired the first female coach, even though it was a lesser position. And as it was illustrated above, we hired Bruce Arians when no one else would. The Arizona Cardinals have done more than most to hire competency rather than cronyism. But even as I say this, it doesn’t mean that the Cardinals have “arrived”. I’m suggesting that we praise Michael B for what he has done so far, and find ways to encourage him to go even further, especially when the statistics support a high success rate for competent black coaches and front office personnel. Without the aura of racism or cronyism, it just makes good business sense. And especially now that Roger Goddell is in this open mode to bringing change into the NFL concerning racism, it would make sense for him to look to organizations like the Cardinals as allies with proven track records in this noble pursuit.

As much as we would like it to be, football is only a partial escape from the pressing social issues of the world that need to be addressed. In fact, football really is a reflection of the truth of society as Sam Acho has so eloquently illustrated. What we can do as Arizona Cardinals fans is to find a way to help OUR players, coaches, front office staff, and owner find ways to bring an enlightened culture into our team that translates into the Super Bowl. If you’ve been paying attention, there is a buzz amongst the NFL players that the Arizona Cardinals are a good place to be. Most of our free-agent acquisitions did their homework before deciding to sign with the Cardinals. To me, this is proof that we are headed in the right direction.

I agree, Leeski, the Cardinals are very much heading in the right direction. As you and others have said a number of times, Michael Bidwill is now entering his prime as an NFL owner and has already built a strong track record for embracing diversity. Steve Keim is a new man these days and is standing on terra firma having rebounded from personal and professional setbacks. Quinton Harris and Adrian Wilson are young, budding African-American GM candidates.

How about the Cardinals 2nd year head coach? Look at the thoughtful and compassionate way he is handling the events of the past few weeks:

If there ever was a press conference where the head coach provided thoughtful leadership during a national crisis—-this one with Kliff Kingsbury is tough to beat.

Kingsbury said that he and his staff spent much of the last week talking with the players in position groups (so as many voices could be heard as possible)—-the staff’s ultimate purposes was to learn what they can do to support the players in any way they can.

Kingsbury said that there were three things he wanted to get across to the team as a whole:

  1. “We reconginize that what happened to George Floyd was a terrible tragedy. it was a murder and people need to be held accountable. I think they will. Racial injustice and police brutality have to stop.”
  2. “We want our players to know that as an organization we need to be supportive. We want to be there for the players. We want to support them.”
  3. “The platform the players have to inspirers a powerful opportunity to touch young lives. When i walk into team meeting rooms I am inspired by our players and enlightened by their life stories.”

Kingsbury lauded the recent efforts that Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson DeAndre Hopkins and Budda Baker have made in speaking out against social and civil injustice.

The Cardinals’ diversity as a team is impressive. QB Kyler Murray is both African-American and Asian-American. The vast majority of leaders on the team, like the ones Kingsbury praised, are highly regarded African-Americans who have a strong presence and following on social media. Add All-Pro OLB Chandler Jones to that list.

But, the player who may have the most to offer in terms of the enlightening “life stories” that Kliff Kingsbury was talking about is newly acquired All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins grew up in Clemson, South Carolina where he witnessed his fair share of calamities, most searing of which was losing his father Harris Hopkins in an auto accident (in which his mom, Sabrina Greenlee survived) when DeAndre was 5 months old—-and then at age 10 seeing his mother return from the hospital blind and badly burned. Sabrina was confronting her boyfriend about having an affair and suddenly the girlfriend came out of the door and threw acid on Sabrina’s face, which caused instant blindness and the skin on the left side of her face to fall off.

DeAndre saw the demise two of his relatives who were his football idols, both of whom played at Clemson. His uncle Terry Smith, after playing for a couple years on the Colts’ practice squad, was shot and killed by Atlanta police after he had broken into his estranged wife’s apartment and stabbed her. And his cousin, Javis Austin, after seeing that he was falling down the depth chart at Clemson attempted suicide by shooting himself in the face. Austin survived the incident, but it blinded him in one eye and it ended his football career. The good news is that he now is a special ed teacher at a Clemson elementary school.

DeAndre has always said that playing football has been his escape from the tumult of every day life.

Do you now why DeAndre chose #10 as his jersey number?

Obviously, Hopkins is no stranger to the fact that according to the NAACP, “African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites.”

And now DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson are leading an effort of change at their alma mater. Per USA Today:

“Two former Clemson Tigers stars and current NFL players, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, are calling on their alma mater to remove the name of John C. Calhoun from the honors college.

Calhoun, who served as the vice president of the United States under two presidents (John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson) from 1825-1832, was a proponent of slavery. Clemson is built on the former South Carolina senator’s Fort Hill plantation, on which he enslaved approximately 70-80 African-Americans, according to the school’s website.

“I want to bring up something that has been bothering me for a long time in my community,” Hopkins wrote on Instagram. ”Clemson University still honors the name of well known slave owner and pro-slavery politician John C. Calhoun on its buildings, signs, and in the name of its honors program. I felt this oppressive figure during my time at Clemson and purposely do not mention the University’s name before NFL games because of it.”

DeAndre Hopkins was traded by the Houston Texans to the Arizona Cardinals because he was asking for a new contract and because of a rift between him and the Texans’ head coach, Bill O’Brien. Here is what Michael Irvin reported about the rift:

What’s stunning about what Irvin reported is that O’Brien called a meeting with Hopkins during which he apparently began the conversation by saying “the last time I had to have a conversation with a player like this it was with Aaron Hernandez.” From there O’Brien complained about Hopkins having his “babies’ Mamas” around too much and questioned Hopkins about his outside influences.

It’s quite possible that Bill O’Brien is too “old school” or traditional in his thinking to understand that a number of 21st century African-American men choose to have children with multiple women—-and that the men are less inclined to get married. Men like Hopkins’ new teammate Larry Fitzgerald, for example.

DeAndre Hopkins’ fit with Arizona Cardinals from an organizational and team standpoint, may quite possibly be an ideal one. The timing of the trade looks auspicious for Hopkins and the Cardinals, particularly in how the Cardinals are handling the current national crises. DeAndre Hopkins is doing exactly what Kliff Kingsbury is encouraging his players to do—-to use their platforms and life experiences in order to inspire meaningful change.

Saying he was happy to be joining Larry Fitzgerald, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, Hopkins tweeted, “I’m a stress-free person. I live in the present. I only care about this T-E-A-M.”

When Cardinals fans are permitted to watch the games, they can expect to be joined by Sabrina Greenlee—-even though she can’t see her son play, she loves being at the games for him. They have a tradition where whenever DeAndre catches a TD, if and when possible he runs over to the stands and hands the ball off to his mom.

“The football has a huge significance for my son and me,” Sabrina says. “It has become a symbol for our unbreakable bond.”

Which is precisely what the Arizona Cardinals are attempting to create with their players these days—-an unbreakable bond.