ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio called George Floyd’s death a “societal issue that we all have to join in to correct,” but said he doesn’t see discrimination or racism as problems overall in the NFL.
“I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We’re a league of meritocracy, you earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don’t see racism at all in the NFL, I don’t see discrimination in the NFL,” Fangio told reporters Tuesday when asked about his experiences in the league over the past four decades. “We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we’d all be great.”
Floyd, a black man, died last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Fangio opened Tuesday’s call by saying he was outraged by what happened.
“I was shocked, sad and angry when I saw what the policeman do to a handcuffed George Floyd on his stomach that led to his death,” Fangio said. “He should be punished to the full extent of the law of the crimes he was charged with in addition to being charged with treason for failing to uphold the badge and uniform he was entrusted with … It’s a societal issue that we all have to join in to correct.”
Fangio has publicly supported the Rooney Rule in the past, which is designed to increase the number of minority candidates interviewed for head-coaching jobs, and the league is trying to expand the rule’s scope, but his “no racism” comments Tuesday brought reaction on social media. Some of the responses noted that Colin Kaepernick has remained unsigned since protesting in 2016 about the excessive use of force by police and social injustice.
During the 16-minute session Fangio said he has encouraged his players to protest, and singled out Broncos safety Justin Simmons‘ efforts on a recent day in Simmons’ hometown of Stuart, Florida.
“I thought it was great, Justin is a great person, a great leader, got his head screwed on correctly, he sees the problems and how they need to be solved,” Fangio said. “He’s searching for solutions and it’s easy for everybody to identify the problems … we need to search for solutions and I think Justin is one of those guys who will find solutions.”
Broncos CEO Joe Ellis had a virtual meeting with the players and coaches Tuesday about what the team could do, and what the players wanted to do, in moving forward in social justice initiatives. Fangio said he would speak to the players about the same topics on Thursday.