This morning Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward made one of his regular appearances on the WDVE-FM morning show in Pittsburgh, and took the opportunity to weigh in on the George Floyd case and the unrest taking place around the country.
“If anyone has watched that video … there is no reason that man [George Floyd] had to die,” Heyward said.
During the course of his 20-minute appearance, Heyward went on to express frustration about how the ongoing protests have overshadowed the fact that three of the four police officers involved in Floyd’s death have not been arrested.
While Derek Chauvin—the Minneapolis Police Department officer who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck—has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, the three other involved officers have not yet been charged with a crime.
“I’m all for everybody giving people a fair shake,” Heyward told WDVE, “but how are the other three cops not arrested when it comes to George Floyd…? How have we gotten to a point where the [protesters] are more vile than the people who have actually [been accused of having] killed?”
Heyward on His Anxiety About Interacting with Police Officers
Asked whether he himself feels immune from feeling threatened by law enforcement thanks to his status as a high-profile professional football player, Heyward told morning show host Randy Baumann that it hasn’t diminished his anxiety.
“I would love to say I feel differently because I’m an athlete but I don’t,” Heyward said. “My wife is white, and we have had to have talks like this, and I have had to tell her: ‘I don’t always feel comfortable around police officers.’ I almost feel like I have to be to-the-book and be to-the-T. I have to make sure they know that I am not in any instance trying to make them feel threatened. I almost have to articulate even more and make sure that [they know] I want them to be safe.”
Heyward went on to relate a story about arriving home after a late-night flight and getting pulled over by law enforcement, which necessitated retrieving his wallet from the luggage in the back of his car. Three police vehicles showed up at the scene, and “the lack of judgment and the fear they had towards me scared me,” Heyward said.
“There’s been times where there is almost like a radar in my brain,” he continued, “where I am like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to make sure things don’t get out of hand.’”
Heyward on Talking to His Children About Inequality
Heyward also seemed to lament the prospect of one day having to have a conversation with his still-young children about inequality, and having to tell them that they may not necessarily be looked at or treated the same as their peers. “You almost have to go above and beyond to be accepted,” he said, before noting that he also fears for the safety of his brother, who is a police officer.
“There are good cops and bad cops and my brother is a good cop and he’s trying to make a difference, but his life is in danger because other people don’t respect the law—other people don’t respect life,” Heyward concluded.
Heyward has a reputation of being one of the most well-spoken and most respected players on his team. He is a two-time winner of ‘The Chief’ Award, awarded annually to the member of the Steelers’ organization that best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media that the late Steelers’ founder Arthur J. Rooney Sr. embodied. He most recently won the award in December of last year, and enters the 2020 season as a holdover team captain.
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