Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson said he and the team are “moving forward” after he said new coach Mike Norvell did not accurately describe how he communicated with players as protests against racial injustice continue after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis police custody.
Norvell told The Athletic in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that “we’ve had a lot of open communication with our team, our players and our coaches. I went back and forth individually with every player this weekend. And that was something that was important to me because this is a heartbreaking time in our country.”
According to Wilson, “This s- - - did not happen.”
The star defensive tackle tweeted late Wednesday night that he and other Florida State teammates would not be working out “until further notice” after Norvell’s comments. Wilson said that Norvell’s claim that he talked to each player individually was a “lie” and instead, the team all received the same text message.
Florida State had a team meeting Thursday morning and Wilson posted an impassioned video to Instagram Thursday afternoon saying the team was “moving forward.”
He said in the video that the team got what it wanted and it would work to have every player registered to vote, help fundraise for college scholarships for black students and help improve schools in the Tallahassee area.
“Yesterday I took a stand that was not only for me and FSU football, not even for athletes in general, it was for big George Floyd,” Wilson said. “Black people in general. For our oppression that we’ve been going through for over 400 years. I want to say shout out to Colin Kaepernick for really being the first athlete I ever saw really take a stand for something he believed in. And I believe thoroughly that black people have been oppressed for way too long in America.”
Wilson is Florida State’s best defensive player. Had he declared for the 2020 NFL draft he could have been a Day 1 or Day 2 pick. He returned for his senior season and told SiriusXM’s ACC Radio in January that he came back because he couldn’t depart after the team had such a lackluster 2019 season.
"I feel like we've got to rep the spear a lot better,” Wilson said. “I feel like we've got to come out and dominate the football field and we didn't do that the last couple years and I just can't leave Florida State knowing I've got an extra year left. I just want to come out and give my all one last year."
Norvell apologizes for his word choice
Norvell said in a statement Thursday afternoon that he was sorry for his word choice and proud of Wilson for speaking up.
“I’m proud of Marvin for utilizing his platform to express his reaction to my comments in an earlier interview,” Norvell said. “Last Saturday evening, I sent a text to each player individually to present an opportunity for open communication with me. Many members of our team chose to respond and have more in-depth conversations about issues and feelings. Marvin is right, it was a mistake to use the word ‘every.’ Particularly at this time, words are important, and I’m sorry.
“Once again, I am grateful for the opportunity that I was given to speak to our team more in-depth as a result of Marvin being willing to express his feelings. We will continue to communicate and work together to be part of the solution making our world a better place for all.”
Norvell hasn’t coached a game at FSU
Norvell tweeted on May 29 in response to former NFL coach Tony Dungy’s comments about the protests and said we all must “stand together.” He also chimed in again on Tuesday and his comments to The Athletic came when he was asked what extra steps of communication FSU was taking with its players since Floyd’s death.
Tuesday night, longtime Florida State assistant Odell Haggins spoke out on Twitter. Haggins has twice served as the team’s interim coach in the past three seasons and stayed on staff as an assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach under Norvell.
Norvell was hired in December to be Florida State’s new head coach after the team fired Willie Taggart — the first black man hired as the team’s head coach in school history — nine games into his second season. Taggart had been hired to succeed Jimbo Fisher after Fisher left for Texas A&M at the end of the 2017 season.
Norvell came to Florida State from Memphis, where his teams were a combined 38-16 over four seasons.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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