On back-to-back days this week, Seattle's Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin used their weekly press conferences to address serious social justice issues, taking time to continue the conversation players started by linking arms in a "demonstration of unity" during the national anthem, as players look to "build a bridge" between people and communities with differing viewpoints, most notably hoping to bring together local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
"I think both guys spoke eloquently and represented themselves very well with their thoughts," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said following Friday's practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. "Really I was impressed. I was surprised by both of them, but really impressed. In the big picture I'm not surprised. When they want to get up and stand up for something they come from a really good place, a really good perspective.
"I think what's really noteworthy is they're pointed at action. They're not just talking, they're pointed at action. They've taken steps and they're taking people with them along the way to see what we really can do and be a factor in a very positive way. I don't know what you could ask more of them during the football season. They have their Tuesdays [off] to do stuff and that's about what they have. But their hearts are in exactly the right spot and they're going to do everything they can to bring everyone who wants to listen, who wants to go along, closer to a solution."
Baldwin and Sherman aren't alone in offering their opinions on the matter. Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett also spoke up this week, and the group joins several players from around the NFL hoping to inspire meaningful change in their communities. As Carroll notes, players have limited free time during the season, but he "couldn't be more proud" of the way players like Baldwin, Sherman, and Bennett are using it, insisting that their off-the-field efforts have not detracted from their on-the-field focus.
"These guys have done everything they could possibly do to get ready," Carroll said. "They're extraordinary competitors and without question their head and minds are in the right place. They get to live life too and they have their day, like I said, they've got Tuesday and they get about half of that with the work they do to condition and take care of themselves.
"I couldn't be more proud of where they're putting their focus when they have their free time."
Photos from the national anthem during the Seattle Seahawks' Week 1 game vs the Miami Dolphins at CenturyLink Field.