HOOVER, Ala. — As he sat behind his microphone at SEC Media Days, the imposing figure of Auburn defensive lineman Montravius Adams — all 6-foot-4 and 309 pounds of him — spoke gently and thoughtfully when asked about the nation’s recent outbreak of racial unrest.
Should college athletes have a voice when faced with social issues of this magnitude?
“Everyone has a role,” Adams said. “Black people, white people, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, God said we’re all brothers. Not to get all religious. For this to get better, everyone has to play a role in it.”
The question stemmed from two episodes of police violence that became widely publicized last week. One involved the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Philando Castille in St. Paul, Minn., while the other involved the death of Alton Sterling at police hands in the SEC town of Baton Rouge, La. Both incidents have reignited public protest from African-American communities across the country, and in some cases there has even been retaliatory violence committed against police forces, such as the slaying of five Dallas police officers last week.
Adams was not the first representative to touch on the sobering reality of violence in America at Media Days.
In his opening remarks, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, like Adams, called for temperate responses and reactions to all of the turmoil.
“One week seems like a long time ago,” said Sankey, referring to the country’s 4th of July celebrations. “The sadness from the past few days remains on all of our minds, and it’s appropriate to make that observation up front as it remains in our hearts as well.”
With three-plus days of SEC Media Days activities left on the schedule, it’s a safe bet that these tragic events will continue to be a theme among the conference’s key football figures.