INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “Few things stir the human heart and soul like injustice. When we see it, feel it, experience it, it is heart-wrenching,” said Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Frank Reich.
“It is not enough for a person who looks like me to say, ‘I’m not racist,'” the coach added.
Colts General Manager Chris Ballard said, “Shame on me. That won’t happen again. We’re going to stand up for what is right. We’re going to stand up for what is right as an organization.”
For most of this month, Reich and Ballard have devoted team meetings to discussing social injustice. The front office has vowed to become active in the fight against racism.
Reich said, “We are not going to be passive. We are going to make it grow. We are going to do it in small ways. We are going to do it in big ways. We’re going to do it in quiet ways where nobody knows what is going on, but we will also do it in the spotlight in the platform in which we have being an NFL team and NFL players.”
On Friday, the first set of actions were set in motion. The Colts complex, the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, sat empty because for the first time in franchise history Juneteenth was declared a permanent company holiday.
Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor said, “They always say actions speak louder than words, so being able to take steps like you said, ‘putting Juneteenth into effect,’ I think it’s definitely steps in the right direction of the entire bigger picture and it shows that they’re actually moving toward creating that overall change or hoping to create that overall change.”
The Horseshoe also plans to soon hire a diversity, equity and inclusion director. That person’s job will be to ensure inclusion in the entire organization.
“We should use our platform that we have now in the NFL,” said Colts running back Nyheim Hines. “I think we have to use that for the kids, just even from everybody watching. Everybody is watching what athletes are doing right now.”
That audience includes Colts owner Jim Irsay. He’s watching and taking action quickly. For the next generation of Colts Nation, Irsay created the Irsay Family Impact Scholarship to help minority students achieve their educational goals.
Taylor said, “No step is too small I feel like when you’re creating a bigger change.”
The Colts say they plan to keep moving forward, promising more initiatives in the weeks to come.