RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that, after "making a statement" by not participating in the national anthem last week, the team's focus going forward will be on "making a difference."
To that end, the Seahawks have launched a fund through their players aimed at promoting equality and justice through education and leadership programs.
"In an effort to create lasting change and build a more compassionate and inclusive society, we are launching the Seahawks Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund to support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice," the team said in a statement. "We invite you to join us in donating and taking action."
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, one of several Seahawks who helped spearhead the fund, said players had been discussing for more than a year different ways to directly make a difference in the community. Baldwin said the team had been looking for the right time to launch the fund. With several NFL teams making demonstrations last week following criticism from President Donald Trump, Baldwin called this a "unique and beautiful time to do it."
He said the fund isn't necessarily a substitute for possible demonstrations before or during games by the Seahawks, adding the team is unsure of what it might do for Sunday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
"It's just another action item for us," Baldwin said of the fund. "This gives us an opportunity to move the conversation off the field and actually into our communities and allowing fans and people outside of this building to actually interact, know what we're doing, know what we've been trying to accomplish and actually take part in doing it with us."
Baldwin said the team is vetting several different programs that would receive money through the fund. Some of them involve education in public schools. Baldwin also said some of the money could go to local law enforcement for training in de-escalation tactics. Baldwin said teammate Michael Bennett has proposed several ideas as well.
"There's a lot of organizations and causes that we want to help and support in any way that we can," Baldwin said.
Baldwin said this is the only such fund in the NFL that he's aware of. He said the organization has been "very hands on" and "very involved."
"We always knew that we needed to generate money but we just didn't know how to do it or what it would look like or if we would have complete buy-in from not only the players but also the organization, which we have now," he said.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he's proud of his players for the initiative they're taking.
"A lot of these guys have kind of grown up with us," he said. "We've been here a long time together. Those that are in the leadership positions, [I've] seen them come through a lot of stages of their young football life and so it's very rewarding. But most of all, I'm excited because they're going to get stuff done. They really are ready to do the good work."