The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to hold practice on Thursday, even as upwards of ten NFL teams decided to cancel practice or team activities in response to the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin. Afterwards head coach Mike Tomlin explained the decision, saying, “We desire to have an impact, more so than statements.”
On Friday evening Tomlin went on to make a powerful statement on behalf of the organization, addressing Steelers Nation from Heinz Field before the team’s scheduled ‘mock road game.’ With Tomlin flanked by Steelers president Art Rooney II and General Manager Kevin Colbert—and his players linked arm in arm on the visiting team’s sideline—Tomlin said the following:
Mike Tomlin’s Statement
“This evening as we go about our normal football business, we come before you standing united as an organization, as a football team, as football men. From different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and even countries of origin. We stand united by our talent and our love for the game of football. That love and those talents have taught us great tolerance and understanding. We realize that those blessings put us in the minority.
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons in 2020, being from the pandemic or the social unrest. The big perspective that it provided us is regardless of how big and important this game is for us, it’s small in the big scheme of things. We also realize we are privileged to have a platform. We are committed to taking action and being a part of the solution to face social injustice and prejudice that we all face, not only in our country, but worldwide. It is our desire to be active participants in the formation of a more perfect union.
“That being said, we realize recent events are a continued reminder of how far we are from that. We stand before you acknowledging that we are blessed and privileged. But that privilege does not shield us from sadness. This privilege does not shield us from shock or outrage. It does not shield us from fear—fear for our safety, or a loved one or an uncertain future. Beyond being football men, first and foremost we are husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, members of a community. We wanted to pause and share with those that are hurting tonight that we see you, that we hear you, but most importantly we stand with you.
“Now we take a moment to come together in the middle of the field as a group of men and pray for betterment,” he concluded, before saying “thank you.” Then Steelers tight end Vance McDonald led the team in prayer.
Mike Tomlin: ‘We Felt Like a Statement Was Needed’
After the ‘mock game’ was over, Tomlin told the media that the organization collectively wanted to show support for those people protesting social injustice.
“We felt like a statement was needed. I was chosen to represent the thoughts and feelings of the men, and I did so humbly,” explained Tomlin. “Tonight, more than anything, we wanted to take the small platform we have, small as it is, and show that we stand united with those that are suffering.”
Following is the video of Tomlin’s statement, as well as select portions of the team’s practice and mock game:
Steelers Guard David DeCastro Injured
In other news, All-Pro offensive guard David DeCastro was injured during the mock game.
The Steelers also made several roster moves, releasing a linebacker to make room for a free agent wide receiver.
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