Coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff joined fellow members of the Atlanta Falcons' organization to walk in a peaceful protest Sunday in an ongoing effort to end racial injustice.
The group Buckhead4blacklives organized the Atlanta-area event, which featured a procession to the governor's mansion, a three-minute kneel by the entire crowd and a moment of silence to honor Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, three black Americans recently killed during unjust acts of violence. Those acts have sparked nationwide protests and a collective call for change to end racism.
"What I've learned about leadership is that it is about other people, and we have to hold ourselves accountable to help those around us,'' Quinn said in a statement. "That's what I wanted to do today.''
Added Dimitroff: "I've always believed we are all created equal and should be treated as such but have passively held back my voice. I've decided it's time for me to step up and take action.''
Falcons players Ricardo Allen, LaRoy Reynolds, Tyeler Davison and Mykal Walker participated, as did assistant coaches Doug Mallory and Bernie Parmalee and media relations staffers David Bassity, Matt Haley and Gaby Moran, among others. Allen had his child hold up a sign that read: "America has no problem standing up for them on game day! Black Lives Matter.''
Several thousand walked Sunday in the protest that Buckhead4blacklives organized about a week ago. The group consists of about 12 students ages 16-20, with the youngest being high school junior Ryan Mutombo, the son of former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo. The elder Mutombo participated in the event, too.
Isabel Johnson, a 19-year-old Georgia Tech student and the chief coordinator of Buckhead4blacklives, appreciated the support from the Falcons and other celebrities.
"You don't really see this kind of stuff in Buckhead; you only see it downtown,'' Johnson told ESPN in a phone interview. "On the news screens, all people are talking about here is the looting. They're not seeing what this whole purpose is all about.
"It means so much to know these people are aligned with our cause. ... I think while we have come a long way since the civil rights movement, we still have a long way to go. We can't say that we've done enough if we're still out here marching and black lives are still not equal to white lives in the eyes of so many people.''
Other athletes involved Sunday included Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson, University of Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson, Notre Dame defensive back KJ Wallace and Samford wide receiver Peyton Ringer. Notre Dame freshman All-American safety Kyle Hamilton also participated.
On Friday, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan donated $500,000 toward a GoFundMe effort to help support the black community in Atlanta, with the goal of raising $2 million total toward the cause. As of Sunday, Ryan had raised $657,009 of the $1.5 million remaining including a $25,000 donation from Quinn, a $10,000 donation from Dimitroff and a $5,000 donation from Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.