The Atlanta Falcons strive to make an impact beyond what is seen on the field on Sundays. This mission extends from the players up to Owner and Chairman Arthur M. Blank. As part of the team's commitment to improve the local community, Falcons players have focused on initiatives that address social justice issues.
"It's important because we don't live in a country that's perfect, we live in a great country, the greatest in the world, but we have issues here. The way to address them is to bring attention to them, which the players have helped us do. I'm proud of the NFL, the NFLPA, the Players' Coalition, and most importantly that our own players are heavily involved in working on issues that they think are important." - Arthur Blank
At the beginning of March, the player led and player formed Social Justice Players Committee of Ricardo Allen, De'Vondre Campbell, Steven Means, Mohamed Sanu and Wes Schweitzer met with Head Coach Dan Quinn to discuss social justice issues in our community and across the nation. Players each identified their own specific focus areas between the issues addressed and put their words into action through identifying organizations in need and making their mark at the grassroots level.
"I have a lot of personal experience with my area of Social Justice, which is visiting adults and youth within the criminal system. I think it's just important to be able to go sit down with them because from my experience to sit down with guys who have been in and out of the prison system and hear them say that me coming to talk to them is motivation and it is vice versa. Me going to talk to them is motivation because that is not where I want to be and that's not where they want to be. A lot of the guys I met were intelligent but just happened to make mistakes along the way." - De'Vondre Campbell
"When we were younger, social media wasn't real hot, but now with everything being brought to the forefront it just put it in a different perspective, but at the same time you get to see the other side of the spectrum and I think that's the most dynamic piece of it. That's the part that's missing because you can sit on one side and not really understand the other side, but now to be able to have these (ride-alongs) that the Falcons provide you can see the other side of it and you can try to piece it together and go forward with our platform and make a difference." - Steven Means
"I just hope they were able to take away how guys come from different backgrounds, different circumstances, different situations, different upbringings, all different parts of the country and able to just to gel and function at a high level for a common goal. We all became super close because of this. If we’re able to do that I’m sure everyone in the world can do that." - Mohamed Sanu
The players who were mentors for the two days included Sanu, Oluokun, Brown, Devonta Freeman, Jake Matthews, Duke Riley, Justin Hardy, Adam Gettis, Tyeler Davison, Adrian Clayborn and JJ Wilcox.
“Last year, I went to my first Habitat and we worked with Zone 1 police and it just completely blew me away. The person who gets the house has to hit all these check marks and then they have to work on the house themselves for 250 hours. You’re there working with the person getting the house and you can see how much it means to them, they’ve never had anything like this in their life and they’re working for it. I really believe and connect with that, hard work means a lot to me. So I did it again this year.” -Wes Schweitzer