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Former and current Houston Texans players reflect on Juneteenth

It was the first year the NFL recognized the important day

HOUSTON – A few weeks ago, accompanied by teammates like Deshaun Watson and Jacob Martin, Houston Texans linebacker Peter Kalambayi attended the peaceful protest against police brutality after the death of native Houstonian George Floyd.

“Honestly it was just a nice protest,” said Kalambayi. “It was good to see so many people out, so many people that care, and are aware or at least trying to become more aware.”

Now, Kalambayi and others are seeing the changes the NFL is attempting to make. After Commissioner Roger Goodell posted a video admitting they had unfairly treated peaceful protests in the past, the league committed to change. Recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday and encouraging employees to reflect was one of those changes.

“We all have stories of racism that have happened to us,” said Kalambayi. “This year, everybody is like, ‘You know what, this is the time, let’s all do it together. We’re all kind of in this together, and it’s pretty cool.”

Former Texans player and advisor, JJ Moses is known for mentoring players, and he sees the NFL’s trajectory headed in the right direction.

“For them to recognize the inequality and what’s taken place in society, I think that’s an important step moving forward,” said Moses.

But the work is not done yet.

“I believe it starts out with having these great conversations, being able to hear and just really get educated,” said Moses. “I feel in life, people have more in common than what we don’t have in common. So, if we can find a way to come together as a whole, I think that would create positive change and a positive movement moving forward.”

And Kalambayi says the NFL’s response to this season will be crucial.

“Obviously just allowing current players to voice their opinions, I think that’s a good start,” said Kalambayi. “A lot of the communities most of the players are coming from are some of the communities strongly affected by racial injustice in this country, so maybe more community outreach.”