Tennessee Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro is changing his approach this season when it comes to interviews.
Vaccaro, in his Zoom media session with reporters on Friday, indicated that he would not be talking football topics this season and instead would be using his media sessions to discuss social justice and reform during the 2020 season.
That decision comes in the wake of sports teams refusing to play and practice this week across the country in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was critically injured when shot by police in Kenosha, Wisc. On Thursday, the Titans as a team decided not to have practice and spent the day discussing ideas and viewpoints related to race relations.
“With all due respect, as far as coming from me, I’m really not going to talk football when I come to these meetings in light of recent events that have been happening around the country. I just think, for me and my platform, my duty is to speak out on things that are happening and that’s just my stance,” Vaccaro said when answering the first question asked of him Friday. “If you have any questions about what’s happening or what’s going on with the team with that stuff, I’ll answer them, but I’m just not going to talk football this year.”
Vaccaro said that he feels the urge to take this approach based on what has been happening in the country recently, and that as a black man, he needs to take a stand for what he feels is the right thing to do and be someone black children can see as a role model.
“I think when I’m in the building I’m locked in, I’m focused, I’m doing my daily routine. Football is football, but at the end of the day when I step out those doors, I consider myself a black man. I consider myself having a responsibility to speak up,” he said. “Me and KB (Kevin Byard) talked about this, there’s not too many Martin Luther King Jr.’s or Malcolm X’s. Young kids look up to athletes now. That’s their heroes, that’s their superheroes. People can say, ‘Shut up and dribble,’ or ‘Stick to sports,’ but at the same time, enough is enough. That’s just how I feel. Not everybody is going to have the same stance as me. I’m not going to say I’ve been on the front line like my brother Kenny Stills has this whole time. I’m not saying that I’m doing this and that every single day. For me, this is where I feel comfortable is speaking on it. I think I can do that.”
One of Vaccaro’s primary motives for this is try and make the world better for his young sons, Kendon and K.V.
“My goal is one day when they’re 16 and they can drive, that we’re not having to have these same discussions. That’s the whole point of taking action right now and hoping that our future is brighter. But, it’s sad,” Vaccaro said. “I’m half black, half white. It’s not like I’m on either side, but if you have any ounce of black in you, you’re considered black. I have to tell them to understand if your skin is a different color, that’s the way you’re treated. It’s a conversation that I’ll have to have. It’s sad. It makes me sad.
“I talked about it yesterday with the team, I actually teared up about it because even with these – you asked me about protesting a game. It’s not even that I’m scared of the backlash of protesting or anything. I’m worried about what happens to my family when I’m at a football game or I’m away. I don’t want my house vandalized. I don’t want somebody – I don’t want my kids going to (school) and everybody is looking at them crazy or not treating them the same way because their dad took a stand on something that was right. It puts athletes in a very, very tough position going through this, but I think the best thing for me is to listen, to understand, to educate my two young boys the best I can, and they know. They have white cousins and black (cousins) – I’m mixed, so they know exactly how to treat everybody, but these conversations will have to be had in the future, but I’m hoping they won’t be.”