Cleveland Browns' general manager Andrew Berry challenged the organization to do more in the name of social justice in the days after George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes.
Berry, who is one of two black general managers in the NFL, pleaded to donate $8,460 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund if 50 Browns employees would do a list of things, ESPN reported Thursday.
Berry’s challenge to them included spending 8 minutes and 46 seconds on one of the forms of educational entertainment he attached in the email, sign up for a social justice initiative and donate to a social justice cause. According to ESPN, he sent the message to every non-player employee.
“We got more than 50 on the first day,” he told the outlet. “That's what was most touching: just how quickly and aggressively the people that we work with on a daily basis engaged on this matter.”
Within a few days, about 70 people raised more than $160,000, which included donations from team owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam who vowed to match employee contributions.
Berry also issued the challenge to players, fans, media, and sponsors through the #BeTheSolution Campaign.
The 33-year-old told ESPN that it wasn’t his platform to enact change that helped him craft the message and start this challenge.
“It's more that I want to see tangible, meaningful action around this cause because I think it's the right thing to do,” he told ESPN. “The thing that struck me is, we've had a number of these types of incidents over our history, and certainly within recent history.
“And I think the emotion, the passion, the things that people are feeling now -- at some point, the emotion is going to wane some. At least nationally. And the important part is being able to channel that energy into something that's productive and actionable so that all of these tragedies don't happen in vain.”