The shooting of Jacob Blake is invoking feelings from Black athletes because many of them know that Blake could have been them or someone they know. For New York Giants star running back, Saquon Barkley, it made him think of one personal memory in particular.
Speaking with the New York Daily News, Barkley told the story about an incident involving his father and the police, where he describes his dad being “mishandled” by law enforcement while he was still at Penn State.
“It’s just sad. You look at it like what if that was my brother? I know my father went through a similar situation when I was in college, and that little situation right there, you could lose someone that you really care about. When you look at it, you can’t just look at it as it’s Jacob Blake. I know he didn’t pass away, but you’ve got to be like,’ What if I was in that situation? What if it was your brother? What if it was your cousin? What if it was Shep [Sterling Shepard]? Golden [Tate]? All those guys. So that’s kind of how I look at it.
“And how it makes me think, how it makes me feel? I understand that God has put me in a position to be able to have a platform and to be able to use my voice. I’ve been big on knowing my history, especially with the athletes and the Bill Russells of the world and the Colin Kaepernicks of the world, how they were able to handle their situation and use their voice. And it creates a conversation that you have to have with yourself: what can you do? What can you do? And that’s just the start. You have to spark those conversations and then take action, find ways you can do that.”
During the conversation, Barkley recalled the emotions he experienced the moment he got that call from his mother, telling him about what happened to his father.
“I remember that phone call I got from my mom that my dad was basically mishandled and mistreated. At the time, they thought my dad was wrong. But we went through it and found out my dad was right, which I obviously knew. But in the moment when I got that phone call, I’ll never forget: I was walking to the Lasch building back at Penn State, and my mom called me, and my mom was really worried and concerned. My dad had a heart condition and got like tased in the heart and stuff like that.
“But I remember how I felt in that moment, and it hurt me. It hurt me. That’s why every single day I try to go out there and work and push myself and, . . . try to be an inspiration for others.”
Blake’s shooting has reignited the energy that already started following the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement. Barkley has been one of the loudest voices in the Giants locker room during discussions of how members of the team can further use their platform to invoke change. Barkley admits he is not sure what the next steps will be, but what he does know is that they will have a plan “soon.”
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