Rams WR Robert Woods and QB Jared Goff: Time to speak up and take action

Robert Woods remembers being "traumatized" and "shocked" by video of the police officer kneeling on George Floyd's neck, resulting in Floyd's death. The encounter hit close to home for the Rams wide receiver.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Woods recalled he and his friends getting questioned by police as kids while at a movie theater in another part of town. He also said he experienced a traffic stop at gunpoint.

"You're just a little bit on edge and alert growing up black in L.A.," Woods said during his virtual media session Wednesday morning. "You just never know."

Floyd's death and the ensuing protests have collectively brought a heightened awareness to the issue of racial injustice which former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick tried to raise back in 2016. Given the current environment, Woods said "it's that time to take action."

"Kaepernick brought the awareness years before this came about. So everyone's aware of what's going on," Woods said. "Now is the call for action. Find ways to actually move in the community, move in our police reforms, sit down with our political leaders."

Those aforementioned feelings haven't been the only motivating factors toward Woods' call to action.

Last week, the Rams used their Monday virtual team meeting as a dedicated platform for players, coaches and other club personnel to share their feelings on and experiences with racism and systemic oppression.

Three days later, Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and several other high-profile black players shared a video coordinated by Thomas calling on the league to condemn racism. Less than 24 hours after Thomas' post Thursday afternoon, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a video statement Friday evening saying "we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier," and encouraged players to speak out and peacefully protest. Rams defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day participated in a peaceful protest last week.

This empowerment is an improvement from four years ago, when Woods said players feared protesting might cost them their jobs.

"Good to see everyone get involved," Woods said.

Teammates and the organization as a whole have taken action, or at least recognized the need for it.

In addition to that dedicated team meeting, the Rams last Thursday hosted an organization-wide conversation with Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, a national nonprofit which strives to create positive change on matters of race and equality.

During his virtual media session Wednesday afternoon, Jared Goff said he didn't see 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman's comments about importance of white quarterbacks speaking up until after he had posted his own statement, but they still resonated with him.

"It's no longer, do you understand, do you not understand," Goff said. "It's just (a matter of) right and wrong and basic human rights."

When it comes to the next steps, how they go about impacting change remains the toughest position and toughest decision, according to Woods. He hinted at it earlier in the story, and he also has an idea of his own.

"Myself, I was already thinking about having a signing party at a voting venue, just to encourage voting," Woods said. "Just a way to get people out, just anything possible to help."

However he chooses to accomplish it, this much is clear: Current momentum toward change cannot go to waste by doing nothing.

"The biggest thing right now is, try to have action," Woods said.

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