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Wide Receiver Chris Conley - August 27th, 2020

(Opening Statement) "Man what a day. Today, the building and the locker room was somewhat of a microcosm of what's been going on in this country for weeks and months. But the outcome could be taken in multiple ways. You could take it in a way to say, 'Oh they weren't united, they were split.' The vote on whether to practice or not, or really just to continue the conversation, came down to one vote: 36-37. And you can look at that as a negative, or you can look at the fact that the discourse was happening and the disagreement was happening, but people decided to band together and stick together. And see the positives in that, you could look at the people who don't have the same experience or background as other people in the locker room, and you say, 'Hey, I want to sit down with you and talk and come to a better understanding of what it is that makes you feel so strongly.' That's a positive. Quite frankly, if I'm honest, I don't know exactly how I feel right now. There's a sense of sadness but at the same time, when something happens a lot, you can grow numb to it. And that's not a place that I, or anyone else in this building want to be in. And quite frankly, we've had conversations time and time again of what can we do that's actionable. And we've come up with ideas. But ultimately, the thing that we have all agreed on is that we can't stop pressing until things happen. It's not something that will happen overnight, but we can't allow ourselves to let life happen and us to forget. So, I'll answer the questions that you have, but that being said, everyone doesn't have all the answers right now but we're doing our best to grapple with the events of the past week and really the past months, years, and experiences of our lives."

(On the frustration of not seeing results and the platform to continue that message) "I think there's always frustration and always sadness when something like this happens. But at the end of the day, we have to know that this is going to continue to happen until there is true reform, until there is defunding, and by defunding I don't say just getting rid of all accountability and law enforcement, but I mean putting funds into communities that can be a first response to things instead of police. People who can be there for family disputes, people who can be there for mental health crises, people who are trained in de-escalation, before violence and these things are followed. Until concrete things are made, a plan, so that these things have levels of interactions before police, this is going to continue to happen in some of these neighborhoods and these communities. So, I would say that it's more sadness than frustration because we knew that this wouldn't change overnight. Obviously, we always mourn the loss of life and that's the thing that I really want people to get to a point of realizing that this is about life. This isn't about priors, this isn't about, 'Did he do this? Did he do that? Was he armed? Or did he not do this? Or that?' This is about a life. And who are you to put a value on a life? Who am I to put a value on a life? And if we can—we need to get to that baseline of saying that a life matters. And that it has value beyond what his warrant was, beyond what his circumstances were, what he looked like, what was going on, whether he listened or not. And that's the baseline that I want to get to people, that frustrates me more. The people arguing that he deserved it, the people arguing that he should've done this, he should've done that. He shouldn't have died. He shouldn't have died."

(On whether those were the same words and emotions that he shared with his teammates) "Partly. You have to have a certain level of just control over your emotions if you want to convey a message sometimes. And it can't come from a place of anger, as angry as you can be and as frustrated as you can be. If you want people to receive what you're saying, it can't come from a place of anger. And so, that's one of the things that I told them this morning. You have every right to be upset, you have every right to be angry, but when we come together and we say a message as a team, it can't come from that place if we want to be received. And part of our talk this morning was about what we can do right now. We've talked a lot as a team, and we've put some things into motion of long-term goals and plans that we have here in the city of Jacksonville. But quite frankly, those are long-term goals and plans. But this morning, we talked about some actionable things that we as a locker room can do now, conversations that we can have now. And that's really where our meeting this morning took a turn, was let's look at what we can do here right now. We might not be able to affect the whole world, but we can do something here, where we're at."

(On expectations from the players if another incident occurs during the season) "The difference between the NFL and other major league sports machines throughout the country is that they're looking for your replacement here at all times and they will replace you and the show will go on without you. And until the people in the NFL who are irreplaceable decide that they're going to step back and they're going to hang it up for a week, two weeks, whatever it may be, I don't foresee that happening. I think you have great leaders in this league, you have guys who have a voice and who want to be heard and who are willing to make that sacrifice. I believe I'm one of them. But until those figures who are the face of the league decide that and people rally behind them, I don't think you see that, I don't think you see that from us. And I hate to say that, I hate to say that, I wish I could say with confidence that people in this league would band together for the least of these. Even the people that, they might not have the same experiences as them and say, 'Hey, I didn't grow up like you, I don't feel the same things you do, but because we're at this point right now, I will stand with you, or I will sit with you. I don't necessarily have that confidence in those people in that position. And that's unfortunate, that's unfortunate. You see the leaders and people in other leagues who stand up and say that they're sitting down. And those are the guys, those are the Lebron [James],, those are the [Stephen] Curry's, those are the guys that are at the top of their game and the face of their league. The same thing would need to happen in the NFL for that to happen. And until then, I'm not sure."

(On whether he's talking about the faces of this league, quarterbacks. And whether the NFL should coordinate with other major league sports during this time) "I think that anything's possible. I think that it's going to take a lot of volition out of those guys and a lot of—you know, that is a bold statement and a bold step to take. And I understand some of the reasons why people are not apt to make those decisions. My first two years in the NFL, I probably had the same exact outlook that a majority of these young guys in this building have. I was afraid for my job. I was afraid for my shot. I had made it to this stage, and I wasn't letting it go. I wasn't going to let anything distract me. And it wasn't until my third year in this league, where I had the game taken away from me, that I realized this is who I am without the game. I'm okay if this doesn't happen, these are more important things beyond this. And so, I think that it's possible. I understand how painstakingly hard it's going to be for those guys, because of the position that they're in. But if a statement is going to be made by this league, in solidarity, and everyone is standing up, it's got to start with them. If we're going to put pressure on the people in this country who make change for accountability, it's got to start with them."

(On what it will take to get those guys to take action) "A hell of a lot of courage. The problem with the league is the NFL is a very large league. You have a lot of guys on a lot of different teams, a lot of different backgrounds, not everyone knows everyone, even people who are of that significant status—not all of them know each other. It's a little bit different in the NBA. A lot of those guys do know each other and if they don't know each other directly, they know someone who knows someone that they've played with. These conversations would be good conversations to be had by a lot of those guys. But at the same time, you want people who will be most affected by these decisions and the conversation, too. You know, some of these guys have the money that if they decided to sit out, they wouldn't really be hurt. Whereas a lot of people would be strongly affected by that decision. And they need to know that, as a whole, how that's going to affect people. You would hope that it wouldn't negatively affect people and they wouldn't just turn a blind eye to it and move on. But given the history of this league, when people decide to strike or sit out, it's next man up. They fill that spot and they just move on. So, what would it take? It would take someone of notoriety standing up and calling on other people of notoriety and saying 'Hey we want to get something done. Let's talk. Let's find this message. Let's find the actionable things that people can do to change and let's put pressure on them right now. Let's put pressure on them right now in any way that we can. Let's use the platform while we have it, because this isn't forever. The platform—we won't have this platform forever. Not everyone will care forever, so they've got to use it. Because his voice isn't quite the same as mine, it's not the same. They say in this league things are fair but not equal. And that's just how it is. With the quarterbacks, it's fair, but it's not equal. They have that power and we can challenge them to use it, to champion other peoples' voices."