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Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss wore a tie featuring the names of several people at his NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony last week, the majority of who were killed by police or died in police custody in recent years.
The names on the tie included Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Akiel Denkins, Greg Gunn, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott and Paul O’Neal.
Moss, who played in the NFL from 1998-2012 mainly with the Minnesota Vikings, said he knew he wanted to do this back in February shortly after he learned of his induction to the Hall of Fame. He told Jason Reid of The Undefeated, though, that his intention wasn’t to divide anyone. It was simply to love.
“I just wanted to show those families that they’re not alone and bring some eyes and some light to the fact that, man, there’s still some families really hurting out here,” Moss told The Undefeated. “We’re in a crisis right now. You understand what I’m saying? Some people don’t want to see it, but all you have to do is open your eyes. There’s so much going on, you know what I’m talking about, and people need to understand that.”
Since the ceremony, Moss said he has received tons of feedback about the tie — and not all of it has been positive. He said he is constantly deleting hate mail and messages, and that he deleted “probably 150 to 200” messages in the last few days alone.
“The black community praised me and thanked me for shedding light on African-Americans dying,” Moss told The Undefeated. “Then on the flip side, you’ve got sites where people are slamming me, saying ‘Hey, n—–, stay in your place.’
“They’re saying, ‘You’re a dumb black jock. You just need to stick to playing football, n—–.'”
Moss also said that he exchanged messages on Instagram with a police officer who told the wide receiver that he disagreed with “the criminals that you have on your tie” because “they broke the law.” And while that fact depends on a case-by-case basis, Moss said that isn’t the point.
“The point is that we’re all people,” Moss told the Undefeated. “People make mistakes. But you shouldn’t lose your life for a lot of the reasons that people have been. Now, the police officer I was [messaging with] agreed with me that some of those people should still be here. He agreed that they shouldn’t have lost their lives. That kind of made me feel good. We communicated about it and agreed on something. What I did, I didn’t mean it disrespectfully toward police. I didn’t call out any police officer or police department. I know police have tough jobs.”
“But I can’t ignore the other part of it. There are things that shouldn’t be happening. And then you have people in this country hurting from missing their loved ones. We just have to come together to admit what’s going on and try to fix it.”
Randy Moss on NFL protests during the national anthem
The issues in the NFL surrounding protests during the national anthem is one topic that is dominating the sport ahead of the 2018 season.
While he wasn’t playing in the NFL when this issue was going on, Moss spoke out about the current climate in the NFL and on social justice in general — something he took a stand for in his Hall of Fame speech while wearing the tie controversial tie.
Yet with certain team owners, and United States president Donald Trump, taking such a strong stance against the protests in the NFL — which started simply as a way to bring attention to those issues around the country — Moss said it has become incredibly hard for so many athletes to even bring those topics up at all any more.
“Athletes are scared right now,” Moss told The Undefeated. “A lot of athletes, most guys, don’t want to talk about this. They’re terrified for their careers. They’re terrified about losing their occupation, which is how they feed their families. Black athletes know they’re being treated a certain type of way. Most guys can’t really voice their opinions. They’re worried about getting the same type of treatment that Colin Kaepernick got.”
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