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JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone spent the offseason adjusting and adapting.
First, came COVID-19. Then, came the discussions regarding racial equity in the wake of George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis, Minn.
Together, the issues helped shaped the 2020 NFL offseason. And Marrone, the Jaguars' head coach, said there was a particular reality in recent weeks as players and coaches not only discussed racial issues in America but turned the discussions into actions.
"For me, football needed to take a step back," Marrone said. "Or, actually a better line would be, 'Football needed to go on the sideline.' It wasn't part of what we were trying to accomplish."
Marrone, entering his fourth season as the Jaguars' head coach, joined this week's O-Zone podcast (link). He discussed multiple issues – including his memories of the late Don Shula, dealing with the '20 virtual offseason because of COVID-19 and what he likes about this year's Jaguars team.
"It's a difficult question from the standpoint that there are a lot of things that I'm excited about," Marrone said, "but I haven't seen them with my eyes yet. … But I think it's going to be interesting with the amount of youth that we have on this team and how hungry they are – and for the most part how well they've picked things up.
"I think it's going to challenge our older players, our veteran players. These guys [the younger players] are really good communicators and have a sense of respect for the people who have played this game, but they're going to come in here and compete."
Marrone on the podcast talked extensively about the need to maintain the spirit and momentum of recent conversations about racism.
"We don't want to see this opportunity fade, and I think that comes from the players and the assistant coaches," Marrone said. "Now, I have to look at my role as the head coach or the leader in creating these platforms or the availability so that we do have the freedom to express it and we do have the freedom to bring up some thoughts and bring up some action plans so that we can use our position in the community – being part of the NFL – and really work on trying to create change.
"We know it's going to take time. … We're discussing it as a movement and we have to continue to keep pushing and keep moving and keep having conversations to bring this type of awareness."
To listen to the O-Zone podcast with Marrone, click here.