Broncos stop football to talk about race relations, Floyd

A demonstrator wears a face mask and latex gloves while waving a placard along Lincoln Avenue during a protest Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Denver over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A demonstrator wears a face mask and latex gloves while waving a placard along Lincoln Avenue during a protest Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Denver over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Instead of X's and O's, the Denver Broncos spent Tuesday talking about racial injustice, police brutality and healing a nation rocked by demonstrations over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on top of the coronavirus outbreak and its economic devastation.

Team president Joe Ellis addressed the offense and defense in separate Zoom calls that replaced the team’s regular video conference sessions, which are a substitute for in-person training during the pandemic.

Coach Vic Fangio and general manager John Elway also participated in the calls, in which Ellis emphasized society’s need to eradicate racism and told the players that the organization shares in the outrage over Floyd’s death last week.

Ellis, who told players he wanted to hear from them before issuing a statement, also listened as more than a dozen players spoke up on the calls.

“My takeaway from it was that we have to figure out what we can do, not only as a team, but as an organization,” safety Kareem Jackson said. “How can we get out and how can we impact the Denver community? Maybe we can get out and put together a march as a team or something like that.”

After the Zoom calls, the Broncos tweeted, “We will stand by our players. We will lift up their voices. We can do more. We will do more.”

The team also retweeted several players’ personal posts, including Malik Reed’s: “I have been one of the ones to not be outspoken about the things we go through, but that doesn’t help create change. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone due to the wickedness of this world.”

Floyd, a black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air. Chauvin was fired along with three other officers and faces homicide charges.