It’s been said that before you judge a man, you should walk a mile in his shoes.
Long credited as a Native-American adage, the phrase perhaps best serves as a reminder to be empathetic to others in all situations. That was the message from Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard on Wednesday, when he was a guest on The Jim Rome Show. Byard shared his thoughts on the current racial issues dividing the country stemming from the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department and what he believes can be part of the solution.
"Education is the most important thing, because a lot of times we are out here searching for answers,” Byard said. “Everybody is looking for ways they can help and ways they can do certain things like that. But if you educate yourself on the history of black people … if you really understand the history, you would have more understanding of why people are so upset with police brutality and then you would be able to be more empathetic with what is going on.
"When I talk to my people — black people — if you educate yourself with what is going on, know who you are, you can find ways to be able to advance yourself. Talk to your family and find ways to advance our race."
The Titans appear to be taking Byard’s words to heart as head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters in an unscheduled statement on Tuesday that he’d spent the last two days having conversations with his players, which revealed a “social blind spot” the 44-year-old said he had been either unaware of or had chosen not to see.
Vrabel’s realization was a result of some tough conversations, but he admitted that listening with an open mind helped him to hear and learn what his players believe in and how they feel.
"It's something that can be uncomfortable, but I think it is something that needs to happen,” Byard said. “Just recently, our locker room and our staff and everybody, we are all having conversations, really great conversations. And I think that is good."
In a time when hate and violence are often the easy responses, Byard is encouraging the opposite. The 26-year-old All-Pro safety stated that love can be part of the solution.
"Do everything in love — hate doesn't cure anything," Byard said. "Do everything in love, and love on one another no matter what race you are.”