Hearing stories about his players and others in the Rams organization being affected by racism and systemic oppression, head coach Sean McVay said he was "a little bit disappointed" he had not been asking those types of questions sooner.
Given the current circumstances, McVay said the organization felt it was important to use Monday's virtual meeting as a platform to share experiences – to talk, listen and mourn. Approximately 25 to 30 of the 125 attendees spoke up for an hour and a half, and meetings scheduled to take place the rest of the day were canceled.
"It was really powerful," McVay said during a virtual media session Tuesday afternoon.
"Was very powerful... Blessed to be part of an organization that is filled with outstanding PEOPLE not just players & coaches! Huge S/O to Coach McVay and the Les!" Rams defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day tweeted.
For McVay, hearing these stories was also a learning experience. Although he said he can't claim to be a victim of racial profiling or injustice, he was raised to know right from wrong and to love people.
"Sports has provided such a unique background for me because of the different, diverse groups and people you get exposed to, where these prejudices, these stereotypes can totally be erased and eliminated and you get to just know people for who they are and love people," McVay said. "And that's what's great about sports. That's where, in some instances, as you reflect on all the things that are going on, it's been eye-opening for me because you don't ever really think about it as, you just love people, but you're really saying, 'Am I asking the right questions to try to really have that empathy and understanding?'"
Rams Senior Director of Communications Artis Twyman was also among those who shared Monday morning, and said "almost every guy on that call was grateful for the opportunity to have that dialogue."
Twyman used his time to highlight frustrations in how little has changed in the treatment of unarmed black men. Rodney King's experience with police brutality in 1992 was captured on video. Nearly thirty years later, video emerged last month capturing the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
"It's just, what do you do? What are the answers? How we can stop this? How can we get better?" Twyman said. "It's gonna take not just African Americans, it's not just going to take minorities but it's going to take everybody to have a voice and to band together to try to, like coach said, do what we know is right."
Part of the solution for McVay is ensuring he builds deeper relationships with players that aren't limited to football. He also said he supports Rams players who choose to demonstrate on the field or otherwise.
"It would be extremely silly of me, if I'm sitting here saying that I'm going to listen, to learn, and try to have an empathy and an understanding, to not allow guys the platform if they feel like it's the right way to represent the healing and some of those solutions that we're looking to," McVay said.
Beyond that support, Twyman said the Rams are working through gathering resources to provide players who want to get more involved, become allies and help.