Detroit Lions cornerback Justin Coleman is from Brunswick, Georgia and as such has a remembrance of Ahmaud Arbery which seems quite fitting at this point in time.
Arbery, who was murdered while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood, touched plenty of lives in his time on earth even if he didn’t always realize it to be the case. Coleman told a story to the Detroit media which illustrated this to be the case. As he said, he recalled a conversation with Arbery where he admitted to not understanding what the future would have in store for him.
Speaking with the media and Fox 2 Sports, Coleman told the story.
“I just remember Ahmaud saying something like he’s not sure what the purpose in his life was. I’m just thinking in my head like dang, your purpose was basically to start this movement, try to change the world,” Coleman admitted. “Now, your life does have a purpose. Your name is being continuously talked about every single day now.”
It’s true that Arbery, George Floyd and the countless others who have gone before them at the hands of senseless police brutality and racially motivated violence have left a painful legacy, but the hope is these recent cases can help represent change. If that is indeed the case, Coleman will be right in the end, and Arbery will be a reason a major movement for change began.
Arbery couldn’t have known it at the time, but his life would end up taking on a much more significant role than he could have ever imagined.
Tracy Walker Shares Memories of Ahmaud Arbery
Arbery was Walker’s cousin and his name has been at the forefront for the need for racial equality in America in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the death of countless others following issues of racial unrest and police brutality.
While the circumstances of Arbery’s case are a bit different than Floyd’s, there is no question that the NFL has opened their eyes to the problem plaguing society and also directly impacting their players. Roger Goodell revealed a telling response to the league’s players calling for change, and Walker joined CNN’s Chris Cuomo to issue his own response.
As he said, the league taking a public stand is a great first step:
“It means a lot because that’s the first step it feels like. Us all uniting as one and trying to accomplish the common goals we are trying to reach for which is equality. As far as everybody trying to unite as one, I feel like it’s great we are getting support and supporting each other at this time,” Walker told Cuomo in the interview.
“Basically the message is now we need to be better,” he said of the situation. “Right now I feel like everybody sees we have to be better. We have all types of diversity in the NFL. We all see each other as one. I feel like we need change and we all see that. We got to come together and unite as one we’re gonna continue to go through this.”
Walker also provided memories about Arbery when prompted by Cuomo, who was murdered in Georgia. As he said, he was a great person who’s memories he holds tight to at this point in time when everything has been confusing following his death.
“He was a great, great soul. A funny person. Always about having a good time. He stayed in his own lane. He always wanted to go out and put a smile on people’s faces,” Walker told Cuomo. “I laugh and smile now about the things he used to do. It’s crazy to think he’s not here anymore. People need to understand he was a great human being and not someone you’d come in and have conflict with. He just wasn’t that type of guy.”
The hope is that the deaths of Floyd, Arbery and others will be the motivating factor for the discussion of serious change in America. Walker sees that happening already, which is only a positive where he sits.
Justin Coleman Stats
After the Lions shelled out the 4 year, $36 million deal to Coleman in free agency last March nearly immediately, the prevailing thought was concern about whether a player who only had a mere 119 tackles, 2 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries in his career would be worth the major money. The key, though, was always the fact that Coleman was coming into a defense in which he has a strong background with Matt Patricia. His awareness around the ball is also key.
In New England, Coleman fit Patricia’s plan perfectly, and it was the Patriots who ended up using Coleman the best. When he went to the Seattle Seahawks, Coleman enjoyed a bit more production and more money, but it was easy to see he loved his role in a comfortable defensive scheme when he jumped at the chance to re-unite with Patricia in Detroit.
This past season, Coleman settled into a solid role in Detroit, showing off his abilities in the slot. He’s going to be counted on to do that again this year given the major changes the Detroit secondary has undergone in recent months. With 55 tackles, 13 passes defended, 1 interception and 3 forced fumbles, Coleman was incredibly active in his first year with the team.
Even though the Lions paid Coleman in a big way, it’s obvious that he is proving his worth to the team. As with all players, what he ends up doing off the field in Arbery’s memory could be even more important than what he does on the field.