JACKSONVILLE – So much of this feels different.
Jaguars running backs coach Terry Robiskie and Jaguars director of player development and youth football Marcus Pollard both will tell you that's true of much about how the Jaguars' organization has approached its recent involvement in the racial equality movement.
"I feel like there are things getting done," Pollard said.
Pollard has more than two decades NFL experience – first as a player, then in his current role with the Jaguars. Robiskie has more than four decades experience – first as a player, then as a coach with eight NFL organizations. Both joined senior writer John Oehser for this week's O-Zone Podcast, discussing their roles and perceptions of the team's involvement in the racial equality issues that have dominated the nation in recent weeks.
"It's happening; trust me: it's moving," Robiskie said.
Pollard in his role works closely with Jaguars players and spoke on the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office steps when players and coaches walked through downtown Jacksonville as part of the movement earlier this month. He has spoken extensively with players and coaches about the issue in recent weeks.
He, like Robiskie, said Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone's approach with players in recent weeks has been key – as has the support of Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, whose essay on racism ran on jaguars.com earlier this month.
"I think there's a genuine feeling among the players, and Coach Marrone said it: 'If you guys are active and protest, you don't have to worry about getting cut,''' Pollard said. "He said, 'If you get cut, it will be because you weren't good enough. It won't be because you were protesting.' To me, that in itself, has to be comforting [to players].''
Robiskie, too, spoke on the steps of the Sheriff's office. As he did that day, Robiskie during the podcast lauded Marrone's approach in recent weeks.
"The thing that's been phenomenally beautiful for me is in Jacksonville – as a Jaguar – I've sat with a head coach who's comfortable in that environment (speaking about racial issues)," Robiskie said. "Doug Marrone is comfortable to sit down and talk about racism in America."
Robiskie said Marrone's involvement in the march was particularly impactful.
"To have Doug Marrone stand in front of that Jaguars statue outside the gate [at TIAA Bank Field] and tell the press, 'I've never been black; I don't know what it would be like to be black in America …''' Robiskie said. "He didn't have to say anything else. If that doesn't resonate with the people who follow him, something's wrong."
Robiskie also discussed Khan's essay.
"That in itself, that's unbelievable – that it's coming from the top," Robiskie said. "To have Shad say, 'Yes, this happened to me …' this is unbelievable. It's a phenomenal thing."
To listen to the O-Zone podcast with Pollard and Robiskie, click here.