Quandre Diggs has played football in sold-out stadiums and in front of TV audiences numbering in the millions since his college days at Texas. He has made millions of dollars during his five-year NFL career, and he was a Pro-Bowl alternate in his first season with the Seahawks last year.
Quandre Diggs is also a Black man in America, which means he checks in with his mother daily to let her know he's OK, even though he has all the material comforts in life that come with earning a lucrative second NFL contract.
"We're more than entertainers, we're more than athletes," Diggs said Friday. "We have families outside of this. My whole family's Black, so at the end of the day, I'm scared for them every day. I call my mom every day. No matter if I'm a multi-millionaire or not, she worries about me each and every day."
The sports world all but shut down Wednesday in response to Jacob Blake, a Black man, being shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And like the NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB players who decided to make a historic statement this week, Diggs and a lot of his teammates are fed up with what they're seeing when it comes to police violence against Black people.
"I applaud those guys. I applaud the NBA players the WNBA players, MLB, all those guys that were able to take a stand and just shut the world down," Diggs said. "Even if it was that day, that made a statement. It's crazy times in the world, and at some point as athletes, as entertainers, it's our job to let people know… I have respect for those guys, and I think as a league, as the NFL we've got to come together we've got to figure out what our message is going to be, and just continue to keep the voices going and keep the movement going—don't let our voice not be heard."
Particularly frustrating to Diggs is the fact that the Blake shooting happened at a time when police know they're operating under incredibly heightened scrutiny following the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd earlier this year.
"Oh for sure it's frustrating," Diggs said. "We had the George Floyd situation, what, three months ago, and would think that with all the attention that it got, and all the attention that it continues to get—and also the Breonna Taylor situation—you would think that people and cops would have the decency to understand, 'Hey, the light's shining on a me a little brighter, maybe I just stay on undercover a little bit, or maybe I just do my job a better way.' You would think that people would get the message, but I guess that's not how it's working in the world. For us (as football players), if the guy in front of me is going out there and messing up, and the coach is putting light on him, for me, I'm going to go out there and do the opposite thing what he just did; I'm going to try to handle the situation better. I just don't see them doing that."
Diggs pointed to the strong relationship NBA players have with commissioner Adam Silver and said he wants to see NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners use their considerable power to make change happen in these volatile times.
"I'm tired of teams putting out PR statements," he said. "Let's put some action into work, let's get out in these neighborhoods, let's try to get these cops better training. If these guys are professionals, then they need to be doing professional work… We've all got to use our voices to be better people."
And to that point, Diggs emphasized that everyone, not just athletes and entertainers, can make a difference. Yes, someone like Diggs has a bigger platform to reach more people, but everyone can have influence over the people they interact with in their lives.
"Anywhere, wherever you're working at, whatever you're doing in your life, you can always make an impact on somebody," he said. "Of course we've got the bigger platform, and we've got to continue to use our platform, but people in my little town of Angleton, Texas, they can use their platform any way they have it. You can have impact on somebody, and all you have to do is leave an impact on one person every day, and you can help change the world. We all need to do better, and that's including myself. The only way this world is going to get better is if we all do better and we all collectively do it better."
One action Diggs has taken recently is registering to vote for the first time in his life. Asked why he decided to do so, Diggs said, "I'm a lot more mature than I was four years ago. Four years ago when I was 23, I really didn't know too much about absentee voting and things like that, but now I'm a father, I'm a boyfriend of eight years, I'm a son, so my mom, my girlfriend my daughter, those people are dependent on me. For me, it's my duty to go out there and go vote. I just made it important—I don't like the leadership that we have now, I'm just going to be honest with you—so for me to invoke my change, I think it's important for me to go out there and get my vote. I'm not telling people who to vote for—you vote for who you have to vote for—but for me, I think it's just important in these times with everything going on that your vote is important. People back in the day fought for our rights to be able to vote, and it's important for me to take advantage of those rights and go do that."