EAGAN, Minn. — A half-dozen representatives from the Vikings met with local and national media Wednesday afternoon to discuss the topic of racism and social justice.
Chief Operating Officer Andrew Miller, General Manager Rick Spielman, Co-Defensive Coordinator Andre Patterson, Ameer Abdullah, Anthony Harris and Eric Kendricks engaged in an open dialogue for nearly 90 minutes.
The group covered topics such as why this push for social justice feels different for Abdullah and Patterson, plus why Kendricks and Harris believe it's important to improve the rapport between law enforcement and the African-American community.
The discussion didn't end there, however, as Abdullah and Patterson continued the conversation as guests on the Minnesota Vikings Podcast, where they were joined by Adam Thielen.
The special edition of the podcast was co-hosted by producer Gabe Henderson and Team Reporter Eric Smith of Vikings Entertainment Network.
Thielen, Abdullah and Patterson engaged in an open and honest conversation for 25-plus minutes about their personal reaction to George Floyd's death, racial injustices in society today and how the Vikings organization can help be part of the change going forward.
Here are five key moments that happened in the conversation between the group:
9:05: Patterson discusses why he feels this social justice movement is different, even though he's seen similar events in his lifetime. Patterson notes that this movement feels different because "the whole world got to see [Floyd's] life taken away from him." With the age of social media, Patterson said that Floyd's death touched the world.
12:35: Abdullah and Patterson offer advice to Smith when he asks what he can do as a white male to help further the cause. Abdullah says to educate and look at yourself first before trying to focus on those around you, including black friends and co-workers. "The attention, in these situations, is directed right back to the black community … like, 'What are you guys going to do?' We all know this is a humanity issue.' Patterson encourages Smith to simply listen and stress the importance that it's not a debate. Patterson references his strong friendship with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and explains the way the two men simply listen to each other in tough but meaningful conversations.
16:30: Henderson asks Thielen how he has felt with his home state being the epicenter of so many conversations and calls for change. "I think everybody's eyes are open right now … ears are open … to what is going on and what has been going on … that maybe people before had no idea, or maybe didn't want to know." Thielen adds that he hopes the world can take on the mindset of a football locker room, where people from all walks of life come together for a common goal.
24:50: Abdullah speaks on the topic of how we can create change so that there is progress and movement in the coming decades: "Until we can have those really uncomfortable conversations, then there won't really be any unity." Abdullah adds that people need to take on a vulnerable state in order for society to get where we need to go.
28:10: Thielen describes how the Vikings are using their platform to help make a difference. "I'm a small-town kid from northern Minnesota … I'm not supposed to be in the NFL. But [my wife and I] feel that God has placed us here to really show that we care. You have to show that we care about this community, your teammates and about one another. It doesn't matter what you look like … I care about you." Thielen references his foundation's work in 2019 at Brooklyn Center High School for how people can tangibly give back to the Twin Cities communities.