NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Like many other professional athletes, Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has taken to social media to show that he's taking a stand against police brutality and social injustice.
The death of George Floyd has left a different impact.
"This push was the straw that broke the camel's back, it finally got to the point where enough was enough," Tannehill said on Wednesday. "More and more people are getting an awakening to the reality of the situation and how deep it really is. There's so many layers to it and it's been happening for far too long. If you're a white person, you don't have to deal with it on a daily basis. It's easy to go about your life not worrying about it. I think people are waking up."
Floyd died after Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. The video sparked protests and riots around the world.
Tannehill said his eyes were opened to the social injustice struggle back in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick started to protest during the national anthem by taking a knee. Tannehill recalled conversations with Kenny Stills when they were teammates with the Miami Dolphins and said they made him more aware of the issues that minorities face.
"My conversations with Kenny and coming to realize what he's gone through in his life," Tannehill said. "I can't imagine being put in that situation and having to deal with it. You hear stories like that and you start to research. I started digging more and more into it as time went on. You go from being naive to the situation and to the privilege. I wanted to learn more and realize how big of an issue it is."
Stills suggested books such as "The New Jim Crow," among others, as ways for Tannehill to get a better understanding. He had many conversations with black teammates back in 2016 and more recently with his Titans teammates. It was shocking when he heard what so many of them have had to deal with regarding racism, police brutality and other systemic issues.
Tannehill's views toward the protests changed. He said he began to understand why the protests were happening and that they weren't about the flag; they were about social injustice and bringing it to people's attention. After investing time to discuss the issues with teammates to gain a better understanding and doing the research to learn what has occurred in the past, Tannehill sees the current crisis facing the country from a different lens. He thinks the conversations have to lead to action, but the first step is gaining an understanding.
"The first step is awareness and education. Once we can have that education and awareness, we can work together toward finding that equality that I'd hope we all want," Tannehill said. "I just have to be true to who I am and support what I know is right. I am going to fight for what I believe is right."