Impassioned Ryan Tannehill expands on support for Black Lives Matter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ryan Tannehill took on the mantle of leadership the Titans needed from their quarterback when he became their starter in Week 7 of 2019.

He followed up a recent Instagram post in support of Black Lives Matter with a strong, reasoned message in a Zoom press session Wednesday. It’s a stance teammate Rashaan Evans called “courageous,” and one I think will give Tannehill even more leadership juice in a room that was already very fond of him.Screen Shot 2020 06 10 at 4.07.28 PM

“Guys in the locker room are watching,” Evans said. “Situations like that bring guys closer and closer together.”

A white NFL quarterback being so comfortably outspoken on issues of race in the days following the murder of George Floyd amid protests asking for reforms is not something I think we’ve seen elsewhere, which makes it an especially impactful to teammates and the organization, and as a story. [Unlocked]

“It’s kind of like enough is enough, right?” he said. “My eyes have been opened to the privilege I’ve lived with my whole life just because of the color of my skin, the situations my friends, my teammates, guys I love have been put in throughout their lives purely because of the color of their skin, things they’ve had to deal with which no man, no people should have to deal with."

Tannehill said he started to learn how his black teammates experienced things differently than he did in conversations with Dolphins teammate Kenny Stills in 2016. Stills recounted a story of police pulling him and his father over when they were traveling, tossing everything out of their car for no reason and leaving it all strewn about the road.TannehillHandsZoom

Stills gave Tannehill stuff to read, including a book titled The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and he felt he moved from being naive to having his eyes opened. change

“It’s an issue that affects millions of people,” Tannehill said. “I think the unfortunate thing about it is if you’re a white person you don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis. And if you’re not put in those situations, it’s easy to just go about your life and not recognize it, and not realize how big a deal it is, how many people it affects on a daily basis.

“With this push, I think more and more people are having an awakening to the reality of the situation, and how deep it really is, how many layers of injustice there are to it with the court system, policing, just on a day-to-day basis.”

He's one of those people. He said he wished he knew more and did more in 2016 when black players including Stills worked to call attention to social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. 

Education, awareness and ultimately action and legislation can hopefully lead to "finding that equality that I'd hope we all want," he said.

“I respect him just for the man that he is,” Kevin Byard said. “The fact that he is speaking and using his voice to uplift others – black, white or indifferent, whatever – speaks volumes for his character.”

Tannehill has been back in Nashville, working out with a bigger group of teammates.

Wednesday they changed it up and played paintball.

The mood may have been light for that, but the underlying theme of recent weeks has clearly hit Tannehill hard.

"Almost every single black guy that I play with that is on the team right now, we've had a ton of conversations, has dealt with something at some point whether it's with the police or another interaction it's just blatant racism," he said.

"Really it's sickening to me that they have to deal with that type of thing. And I want it to change. I want everyone to get the justice and equality that they deserve.... It's almost universal and there is no question that we need to make big changes."

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