Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown was one of five NFL players to head to Capitol Hill Tuesday to talk police brutality with members of Congress.
According to ESPN's Jim Trotter, Anquan Boldin, a receiver with the Detroit Lions, arranged the trip in honor of his cousin Corey Jones, who died in a police-involved shooting in Florida last year.
Trotter reports Boldin began contemplating the trip well before San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the national anthem at games.
At the time, Kaepernick told the NFL he chose not to acknowledge the Anthem to protest police violence and the discrimination of African-Americans throughout the country.
Boldin reached out to Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, Lions safety Glover Quin, Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown and wideout Andrew Hawkins to join him.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) November 15, 2016
Hawkins told ESPN the decision to participate was personal, reflecting on how he could've been in the same situation as 12-year-old Tamir Rice had his mother allowed him to play with the toy gun he had gotten from a church giveaway for kids.
"I thought the gun was the coolest thing ever, and my mom took it away," he told ESPN. "I asked why, and she said, 'Someone is going to think it's real and shoot you.' I didn't understand it because all of my friends -- I went to a predominantly white elementary school, Catholic school -- they all had BB guns and would play with them all the time. I always thought it was so cool, but my mom would tell me, 'You don't have that luxury.' I didn't understand it as a kid, but I do now. I have a son of my own."
"I don't believe we, as white people, can understand what African-Americans go through on a daily basis, because it's different," McCown said. "For me, first and foremost, I want to be able to acknowledge that and say that our stories are different and our histories are different, but let's just try to be a part of making it better moving forward. That's been my resolve -- starting in my family first, and in my circle -- to be able to go, 'I'm going to listen better and be better and be on the side of good and good things to move forward. But what does that look like? To me, it looks like justice and standing with your friends for what's right. So many times in this situation it feels like you can't be for law enforcement and for Black Lives Matter. There's such a stark line that you have to be on one side or the other. I'm trying to process that and understand. Why can't you be for both? I want the message to be that we can be for both. I don't know if that's possible, but that's where my heart is."