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Florida State football team issues statement on social justice, Black lives

FSU football speaks out after the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Florida State Football Program Leads a Unity Walk in Tallahassee Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida State Seminoles football coach Norvell spoke in depth during today’s media session about the social injustices in the world right now and how he is handling the moment with his team.

“I think it’s huge. We get one opportunity to go through this life. If you live a life without relationships, it’s not a life worth living. You have the ability to have a positive impact on others while trying to be the best version of yourself.”

“I told my players this morning: Be true to yourself. Be true to your heart. Be true to your actions.”

It followed a statement Norvell issued Thursday night, following in the footsteps of coaches and athletes across sports in the wake of the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, taking to Twitter to speak out in support of Black lives and a need for change.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a coach and for all the relationships I’ve built,” he wrote. “Throughout my life and career as a player and a coach, I’ve been blessed to have built lifelong relationships with so many Black men on their path to success.”

“This must STOP, we have to be part of the solution.”

Norvell has spoken on his desire to influence the lives of his players continuously throughout his Florida State tenure — and has also looked at himself for ways to improve and change, following an admitted misstatement over the summer when talking about how he handled the social unrest that began this summer.

He says the team held an open forum meeting before practice on Friday.

“We came together this morning, inviting everybody to have an open forum discussion. There are still acts of hate and injustice around this country and we are aware. Everyday we have to continue to make our actions apart of the solution.”

He said that the team has plans for action both in the short and long term, which was evidenced today when the team issued the following statement:

Last week, FSU had a team-bonding event that many of the players said brought the team closer together. That event built a close brotherhood within the team. Norvell believes that the brotherhood they’ve built will help them get through tough situations like this.

His statement similar in theme to something Norvell said at press conference last week, after a week in which he said that the team emphasized investing in each other and understanding the journey of each other.

“This game has meant everything to me.

I’ve played it or coached it since I was five years old. I absolutely love the relationships that you build through this game. I had some incredible coaches that poured into me when they didn’t have to.

There is so much that goes into it, to the wins and the losses, which obviously it matters, but also embracing the impact that you can make to help change somebody’s life. That is why I got into coaching. I mean I love the schematic part of it. I love all of the things you can do in working game plans, but for me, if we can make a difference and help these young men be successful for whatever this life can throw at them and how they respond, and the leaders they can become, the friends, the brothers, the sons - all of those things are essential and what I believe my job responsibility is.

If we have guys that are doing things the right way off the field, I believe we have a much higher opportunity to see them succeed on the field. It is a true joy and to see guys grow and buy into that, and when you get those experiences, when they play out in a young man’s life, that is what makes coaching so rewarding.

That is something I’ve always believed is critical.”

After the murder of George Floyd, FSU players in June organized a Unity Walk in Tallahassee, a moment of togetherness needed not just for change, but for the team itself after Norvell’s exaggeration.

“A unified country shows the importance and necessity of all Black lives and the importance of everybody being on that page and that message to unify together,” he said in June while addressing the crowd gathered in front of Doak Campbell Stadium. “I’m grateful to see everybody out here be a part of this.”

“To be honest with you, one of the proudest moments I’ve had was earlier this week when one of our football players took ownership and leadership in helping to organize this entire event and the encouragement and support of this team to include all of Tallahassee so that we could have a moment together showing our support for this entire community and this entire country with one unified voice and one unified action.”