Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star
Published 11:47 a.m. ET June 4, 2020
Colts GM Chris Ballard decries racism and calls for change, starting with himself. “I’ve been ignorant to the real problem.”
INDIANAPOLIS — Colts general manager Chris Ballard was angry.
Angry at himself. At society.
He was hurting, too. Hurting for the black members of his team and the black members of the Colts front office and coaching staff, hurting for his friends, hurting so much that tears appeared in his eyes at times during an emotional 15-minute speech.
Ballard was not going to talk about football in an impromptu media availability Thursday.
“I can’t sit here and remain silent, because that’s exactly what we’ve done every time our black community screams and yells for help,” Ballard said. “We have to end social injustice and racial inequality. We have to end the police violence against our black communities. Black lives matter. I don’t understand why that’s so freaking hard for the white community to say. Black lives matter.”
Ballard admitted that he’s been naïve, that he didn’t fully realize the everyday racism experienced by the black players and coaches and friends in his life, and that he has made some mistakes, including that he didn’t listen enough to former Colts safety Darius Butler in 2017 when a dozen Colts kneeled during the national anthem before a game against the Cleveland Browns.
“I’ve been ignorant to the real problem, and I’m ashamed of that,” Ballard said. “I just came to the realization over the last 10 days with some really hard, difficult conversations that we’ve had as an organization, as a team, with my family, with my sons. I’ve been ignorant to the real problem. This is not a black problem. This is a white problem. This is an issue that we have to talk about, and we can’t sugar-coat it. We can’t sugar-coat our way out of this. We can’t go back into our bubble, because that’s what we’ve always done. We’ve always gone right back into our bubble, and we’ve never really listened.”