Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard steered clear of any football talk Thursday when talking to reporters during a video conference call.
Instead, Ballard offered a passionate speech about racial equality and social injustice in the wake of the protests sparked across the nation against police brutality.
“I can’t sit here and remain silent, because that’s exactly what we’ve done every time our black community screams and yells for help. We have to end social injustice and racial inequality. We have to end the police violence against our black community,” Ballard said, according to video shared by The Athletic’s Zak Keefer.
“Black lives matters," he said. "I don’t understand why that’s so freaking hard for the white community to say. Black lives matter. I’ve been ignorant. I’ve been ignorant to the real problem and I’m ashamed of that. I just came to the realization to that over the last 10 days with some really hard, difficult conversations that we’ve had as an organization, as a team, with my family, with my sons and I’ve been ignorant to the real problem.
“This is not a black problem. This is a white problem. This is an issue that we have to talk about and we can’t sugarcoat it. We can’t sugarcoat our way out of this. We can’t go back into our bubble because that’s what we’ve always done. We’ve always gone right back into our bubble and we’ve never really listened. We haven’t listened. I haven’t listened. We haven’t listened as a country. White America refuses to listen. We want to keep things the same and it can’t or we’ll continue down the same paths we’re continuing down. That has to change and nothing will change until we do that.”
Ballard added that he thinks he was doing things that hurt people in the past.
The general manager’s speech comes as NFL organizations are trying to address racial injustices in the U.S. and find ways to make changes.
The introspection came days after George Floyd died in police custody May 25 after an officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes in a moment caught on cellphone video. All four Minneapolis officers involved in the death were arrested.