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'It's all got to be rooted on love.' Penn State QB hopes unrest can turn into change

JON SAUBER
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Sean Clifford
Sean Clifford

Since the police killing last week of George Floyd in Minneapolis and nationwide protests that followed, Penn State football players have not shied away from talking about issues of racial inequality.

Floyd, a black man, died after Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes while Floyd begged for him to stop and allow him to breathe. Chauvin didn’t relent until two minutes after another officer couldn’t find Floyd’s pulse. Chauvin has since been charged with murder and fired from the department.

Consequent protests have been held across the country, including in State College on Sunday.

While speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford gave his opinion on the subject matter.

Here’s what he said.

On being a leader within the team

“I think it’s been, I mean the whole situation is definitely a very difficult one. This time that we’re in as a country is definitely an interesting one as well — I think long overdue, honestly. But from a team perspective, and that’s where I kind of would want to keep it, is what I tell the guys and what I’ve told them from the start is it’s like for me, it’s all rooted in love. And I love every single one of my teammates. I would never wish anything upon them, that like, what has transpired in the past week.

“Obviously I think that it’s good that this is starting to come to light. You know the situation is obviously terrible but it is good that as a country we’re starting to actually feel this. It’s been exhausting, to be honest with you, but I think that it’s good that it’s been exhausting because we’re finally feeling what it’s like to be an African American in our society.

“And I told the guys that I’ve talked to that I really feel for them and I’ve never been more proud to be their teammate, especially guys that are speaking out on the issue. And I think that just overall. I just hope that we really change as a culture and as a country, and, you know, I think a lot of good can come out of a very terrible situation. But overall, I think that it’s all got to be rooted on love because love conquers all.”

On balancing listening and leading

“I try to vocalize that (my upbringing is different). I think my teammates understand that and like I said before, it all goes back to love, and the love that I have for this team and the love I have for these guys. I don’t know what it’s like to be African American. I don’t know what it’s like to be an African American in this culture. I don’t have to deal with what they go through every day. And I tried to express that to them and, and it’s not the first time that we’ve talked about this.

“This has obviously been something that has been pressing in our culture. But I think it’s been brought to light now, and people can’t ignore it, and I think that’s honestly, like I said, it was a terrible situation but I hope that as a society that we can see a lot of good out of it and start to make a change, because like I said before, I love my teammates. I love their families and I would never wish anything like that upon them.

“And I think that everybody should be treated equally. And so yeah that’s kind of what I’ve been preaching to everybody and, and just trying to live that out every day.”