Linebacker Thomas Davis, the 2014 NFL Man of the Year and a team captain, addressed the media Thursday about the civil unrest in Charlotte this week. Below are excerpts from Davis' press conference:
On the events in Charlotte the last couple of days: "It's pretty sad and disheartening to think that this is going on right here in Charlotte. Knowing how great of a city Charlotte is, knowing that me and my wife made the decision to live in Charlotte because of the low crime rate and knowing that it would be a great place to raise our family, it's very disheartening that we and the city are going through this right now."
On Sunday's game going on in light of the current state of events: "I don't really have any concerns about the game being held here. There are some protests going on, and you look at the news and see the rioting that's gone on. But I stand here right now, and for anyone that's listening to me right now, I just hope people realize that that's not the answer. A lot of people are upset about what's going on, and rightfully so. There's a lot of video footage that's going out (involving police violence), and it's not just about Charlotte. It's about what's going on across this country. What's going on in Charlotte right now is not the way to solve this problem. When you go out and loot and riot, you stand a chance of more people getting injured, more people getting hurt – civilian and innocent police lives. It's just not the way to go about things."
On the looting and violence: "People are saying, 'We did it this way to send a message.' The only message you're sending in doing that is that we're going to be violent, going to be hoodlums, that we're going to go ahead and conform to the image that people are already starting to believe about us. As an African-American male, we can't allow that to happen. That's not who we are. That's not what we're about."
On expectation that athletes chime in on social issues: "I absolutely agree that there is a problem going on in this country, but what's going on right now is not the way to fix the problem. So much is being put on us as athletes and other entertainers to fix the problem that's going on right now. There's not something that we can voice and share our opinion about that's going to fix this problem. Something is going to happen from the top, something that has to be done from a judicial standpoint, from a standpoint of someone stepping in and saying, 'Hey, we have an issue. We need to come together and address this issue.' It's not going to be just the police fixing what's going on internally. It's not going to be people rioting and protesting that's going to fix the issue that's going on right now. People have to realize that things are sensitive with everything going on – the shooting in Tulsa and the shooting here in Charlotte – and people looking at these situations have to realize that all situations aren't the same. We get emotional in our involvement with certain things, and for me as an African-American male to see all this going on is very disheartening."
On what athletes can do: "One of the things I had to do yesterday as a parent was go home and talk to my boys who watched the news and explain to them that not all cops are bad cops. It's just like how cops have to realize that not all African-American males are hoodlums or guys that are going out and deliberately getting in trouble. I'm trying to explain to my kids that police are here to protect and serve us, but at the same time, someone has to be held accountable for what's going on. It's beyond our scale as athletes in what we can do, but one thing I focus on is trying to promote change within. That's why we do the work that we do with the youth to try to catch them at the age they're at. It starts right now. For us as athletes, what we can do is get out in our community. We can connect with not only the people that we serve and the people that we work with but also with the police officers and really try to bridge the gap to try to create an ongoing relationship that can help promote change. It is in a sense unfair, but at the same time our voices speak loud, especially within our own communities."
On if Sunday's game should be played as scheduled: "This game absolutely should be played Sunday. I look at football as a way of bringing people together. This is a tough time right now in our community and our city, and we need something that's going to bring people together with all that's going on right now. If you look at how the South is and how the game of football is, it has a unique way of bringing people together. Just look at the makeup of our football team – so many races come together – and we have so many different fans that are brought together. If you take this game away, I think that's just going to continue to add to the stress and add to what's going on in a negative way. It's important for us to start making this change today, for people to start coming together and doing things the right way, in a peaceful way so we can change this whole thing around."
On what this is like for Davis personally: "It is a struggle for me right now because I know the city of Charlotte, I know this community. And I know what I saw on TV last night is not us. That's not Charlotte. That's not this community."