Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow ‘won the team’ over racial injustice meeting in 2020, former staffer says

Before Joe Burrow led his team to a Super Bowl or even played an NFL regular season snap, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback “conquered the team” in an emotional reunion on the racial injustice in the summer of 2020.

The Bengals were holding a meeting at team headquarters around August, following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the racial injustice protests he sparked in across the country. As defensive tackle DJ Reader recalls, “there was a lot going on in those days” across the country and players were discussing important issues at the meeting.

Burrow decided to address the team by telling a personal story about the racial injustice a black teammate suffered during his high school basketball days in Athens, Ohio. During one game, Burrow said, people in the stands shouted racial slurs at the friend. Burrow described feeling shaken and upset during the game, and how he felt afterwards, as they both sat in the back of the team bus.

Burrow has sworn to fight such behavior for the rest of his life.

“He kind of broke down talking about it,” Reader said. “He’s a guy who stood there and he supported his friend the way he should because you know it’s not right. As a person it meant a lot to hear how he had it. defended. [Racism] is not something he is not learning.”

Reader, who is black, added that it was “good to hear someone from the opposite side” speak about the struggle at the reunion, pointing to Burrow’s inherent leadership. “He stands by what he says,” Reader said.

“He won the team over very quickly – every leader has that moment,” said a former Bengals staffer who attended the meeting.

Burrow was not available for immediate comment, but his father, Jim Burrow, said the story his son told about his high school friend was accurate and that Joe told him what happened. that night after the game. Hearing racial slurs directed at Joe’s friend and teammate was “disappointing for all of us” and “heartbreaking,” Jim said.

“I think it opened his eyes to the fact that something like this could happen,” Jim said of his son. “For us, just the normal core values ​​we grew up with: always showing respect, treating people with respect no matter who they are, whoever they are, and being willing to help others when you can. “

Joe has turned to leadership on every team he’s joined since youth sports, Jim said.

This process is played out at the professional level. Joe Burrow’s words to the team are powerful, if not many, his teammates say.

” When he does [speak]everybody’s listening,” cornerback Mike Hilton said.

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