This weekend saw several athletes voice their support of Eric Garner and his family in the wake of the New York grand jury ruling last week.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush had an equipment manager write the words “I Can’t Breathe” on the shirt he wore for pre-game warmups. “I Can’t Breathe” are the last words Eric Garner uttered before he passed away in July while being placed in a chokehold by a police officer.
Bush verified the move was a protest against injustice, telling the Free Press he doesn’t regret the decision.
“We are afraid to face criticism. We are afraid that people are going to send negative tweets and write negative comments on our Instagram posts. I’ve always been that guy to sit back and be reserved, to sit back and not get involved in situations like this. I just felt like I do have a voice. It’s OK for me to say how I feel.”
Several St. Louis Rams players also made similar statements yesterday. Yahoo! News is reporting Rams guard David Joseph wrote the same words on his cleats during pre-game warmups on Sunday. Rams tight end Jared Cook wrote them on his wrist tape and receiver Kenny Britt had the names of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin written on his cleats.
Joseph intended to wear the cleats during the game, but had to change them due to turf conditions. This didn’t stop him for vocalizing his concerns though.
He told reporters, “We should always have an opinion of sticking up for people who don’t have a voice.”
Coaches even got in on the act by supporting their players’ choices. Lions Coach Jim Caldwell told the Free Press he felt a connection to the protests after growing up during the civil rights movement in the 60s.
“I believe in it. I’d be a hypocrite if I stood up here and told you any differently ’cause more than likely, some of those protests that Dr. King and some of the others that took part in non-violent protest is the reason why I’m standing here in front of you today. So, yeah, absolutely, no question about it, I don’t mind it.”
Stars from other sports have been in on the act too. The Inquisitr reported Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose wore a t-shirt during Saturday’s warmups with “I Can’t Breathe” emblazoned across the front.
New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire told reporters he was upset that he was unable to attend the Garner protests, and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James released an official statement addressing Garner and Brown grand jury decision.
“This is our country, the land of the free, and we keep having these incidents happen, innocent victims or whatever the case may be. It’s a sensitive subject right now. Violence is not the answer and retaliation isn’t the solution. As a society we just have to do better. I pray for the families of the lost ones.”
The statements come on the heels of several similar protests following the Michael Brown grand jury decision in November.
[Photo courtesy of USA Today]