The Seahawks staged a mock game Wednesday at the otherwise-empty Clink, which was football-useful but utterly irrelevant culturally. Another unarmed Black man in America had been gunned down by police, this time in Kenosha, WI. The Seahawks joined others in the sports world furious about another atrocity — Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back, in front of his three children.
Coach Pete Carroll was among the outraged.
“This is just ridiculous,” he said at his post-game presser. “I can’t even imagine that this continues to happen. I don’t know how (police) could ever do that on the circumstances and the awareness that everybody should have right now. But it continues to happen.
“The whole Black Lives Matter thing couldn’t be more obvious how true this was, and how much focus and change needs to come. I just hope we can do something to help.”
To that end, Carroll reached out to former presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) Tuesday night to meet virtually via Zoom for 40 minutes with his players to offer some direction.
Calling it “a big evening” and part of what he termed “a season of protest,” Carroll said Booker, a former Stanford football player whom he met this year during a visit to Seattle, encouraged players to use their social media platforms to speak out.
“He emphasized to us that everybody has a voice now,” Carroll said. “The guys can have an effect on the people that follow them, that watch them. They have (followers) that care what they think about. He urged us to really think about what we want to say to those people, and know that we do have the power to have an effect.”
The power began to be used across sports Wednesday, especially after a 17-year-old white supremacist with an AR-15 was charged with killing two people at a protest in Kenosha following the shooting of Blake, who remains alive but is paralyzed from the waist down.
When a recording of the national anthem was played Wednesday, more than a dozen Seahawks sat on the team bench along the west sideline, including veterans LT Duane Brown and DE Bruce Irvin. Rookie LB Jordyn Brooks appeared to have his hands together praying.
Newcomer SS Jamal Adams — who sat out Wednesday after taking stitches to fix a finger injured cutting strawberries at home — had his mind wrapped in fear and fury:
I’M SCARED FOR MY PARENTS LIVES. I’M SCARED FOR MY NEPHEWS AND NIECES LIVES. I’M SCARED FOR MY BROTHAS LIVES. I’M SCARED FOR MY SISTERS LIVES. I’M SCARED FOR MY DAMN FAMILY MAN!
— Jamal Adams (@Prez) August 27, 2020
Nationally, the NBA postponed three scheduled playoff games Wednesday in its Florida bubble after the Milwaukee Bucks, whose arena is about 40 miles from Kenosha, refused to come out to play Orlando.
The strike sentiment spread quickly among other teams, particularly after Clippers coach Doc Rivers delivered a poignant, emotional response to the shooting following his team’s 154-111 win over Dallas Tuesday.
The WNBA, playing its 22-game season entirely in a bubble in Bradenton, FL., followed suit by postponing its three games scheduled Wednesday night. The league earlier announced it was playing its season dedicated to social justice.
In San Diego, the Mariners voted unanimously to not play the Padres in their scheduled game Wednesday night. They followed the lead of the Milwaukee Brewers, who walked away from their game with the Cincinnati Reds.
Mariners INF/OF Dee Gordon tweeted that racial injustice is bigger than a ballgame.
There are serious issues in this country. For me, and for many of my teammates, the injustices, violence, death and systemic racism is deeply personal. This is impacting not only my community, but very directly my family and friends. Our team voted unanimously not to play tonight
— Dee Gordon (@FlashGJr) August 26, 2020
MLS announced around 6 p.m. that five of the six scheduled games Wednesday were postponed, including a Sounders match against the Galaxy in Los Angeles. Reportedly under discussion by the players is a league-wide strike through the weekend, which would mean postponing the Sounders’ “re-opener” at home Sunday at the Clink against LAFC.
Disturbing times, not in the mood to play. Human rights are bigger than sports
— Stefan Frei (@Stefan24Frei) August 27, 2020
Back at the Clink, CB Shaquill Griffin was the only player made available to the media after the mock game. He described the still-developing group message — the Seahawks don’t have a real game until Sept. 13 — as keeping the public aware.
“It’s a lot that’s going on between (NFL and NBA players) and the main thing is just keeping awareness,” he said. “It’s tough, because you try to figure out ways to kind of help, but still do your job.
“It’s a tough subject for everybody. We’re still trying to figure it out because you have everything happening. We got to keep that same awareness for each other so no one ever forgets.”
Carroll is hoping the Seahawks can come to unanimity on an expression of contempt. Regarding a potential strike at a Seahawks game, he said, “Anything is possible . . .
“We want to do something together, what happens at the anthem, that kind of stuff. That’s why to me it’s a seasonal protest. One thing we’re not, is we’re not numbed to it. We’re in tune and the guys are feeling it. It’s topical and we know that we have to do something that’s on the right side of this whole issue.
“You worry that you can’t do enough. You worry that you can’t be effective enough to create the change that we need.”
That is a universal worry in America.
The Blake shooting after the police murder of George Flyod in Minneapolis is unconscionable, and the pending wildcat sports strike — it’s not a protest, it’s not a boycott, it’s a strike — will hit America where it plays.
Whether it is enough is unknowable. Whether it is necessary is unquestionable.
After all that it has taken for sports to get this far while enveloped by the coronavirus introduced last year, sports and America must continue a more profound fight against a toxin introduced 400 years ago.