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Titans Teammates Kevin Byard, Rashaan Evans See Reasons for Hope in Search for Social Justice


NASHVILLE – The death of George Floyd will always be painful to watch.

It's equally heartbreaking, and sickening.

Unfortunately, similar scenes have played out too many times over the years.

This time, the hope is it will lead to change, and those pushing for it include Titans safety Kevin Byard, linebacker Rashaan Evans, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who all spoke on the subjects of police brutality and social injustice during a Zoom conference call on Wednesday.

"I've watched police brutality and I've watched guys being killed on TV, if it's black or whatever, for a long time," Byard said. "I don't really like to watch it. I don't like to see that coming down on my timeline. I try to stay away from it as much as possible. But at the end of the day you can't help it when you put the TV on and see different things. At the end of the day, my heart goes out to everyone, my heart goes out to all the victims and the families. I just hope and pray that one day while I'm raising my daughter, and I have the conversation with her about police brutality or just growing up being black in America, that conversation is a lot better than what it is right now."

All three players say they have been encouraged by what has happened in the wake of Floyd's death in Minneapolis, which occurred when police officer Derrick Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.

Floyd's death has led to more conversations across the world, and awareness, and a lot of that is happening through protests.

"It's globally that people are bringing awareness to something like this," Evans said. "You're talking about not just in the United States, you're talking about in Germany, Italy. … Watching on my TV screen, I saw many people many cultures, many colors, literally come together for one cause. I thought that was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. I've never seen this many people take this matter and take it in their own to really be able to bring awareness about it.

"To have that many people take that to heart and be able to protest about that, I think it's a big step to just in the future, just in general with the world. I feel like people now are starting to be more and more gentle with each other. I feel like we definitely need to be more gentle with each other with the things that we say and how we treat each other."

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said last week he's had a number of conversations with players in the wake of Floyd's death.

Tannehill said he's tried to educate himself over the years so he would have a better understanding of what his black teammates have experienced and he said "it's really shocking what guys have been through."

"We're dealing with a big issue right now that has plagued our country for a long, long time," Tannehill said. "Some really good conversations are going on right now, and I think the progress our country is making is headed in the right direction slowly but there's still a long, long way to go. This is not a short-lived awareness thing -- it is something that is going to have to go on a long time to get to where we need to be with justice and equality."

In time, Byard hopes the world will be a better place.

"I'm happy that the awareness and the stuff that is going on around the country right now today is happening," Byard said. "I honestly feel like we're in a monumental time in our history just with the level of consciousness, and everybody not necessarily waking up, but just understanding that like I said all lives matter and different things like that. I would just say that for anybody that's trying to understand what black people are going through or trying to figure out what they can do in this situation is just have empathy. Have empathy as human beings to understand that everybody goes through struggles, not just black people, everybody goes through struggles. Just understand to be more empathetic and be more humane.

"Everybody's lives should mean equally as everybody else's no matter what your skin color is, what you look like, no matter what. That's definitely how I feel about that. I support everybody peacefully protesting all racial injustice all around the world, police brutality, social injustice, systemic racism, everything. That's kind of how I feel about that."

A look back at safety Kevin Byard's 2019 season that saw him lead the team for the third consecutive season and tie for fourth in the NFL with five interceptions. (Photos: Donald Page)

Titans Online looks back at linebacker Rashaan Evans' 2019 season (Photos: Donald Page)

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