A tense 13-hour stretch for Florida State football — including a boycott threat led by a 2019 team captain — ended Thursday afternoon with a powerful statement on race in America by star tackle Marvin Wilson.
It began just after midnight when Wilson, an All-ACC defensive lineman, posted on Twitter that the Seminoles were “outraged” over comments their new coach, Mike Norvell, made Tuesday evening to the website The Athletic. Norvell said he “went back and forth individually with every player this weekend” about the nationwide protests and conversations centered on racial discrimination and the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis last week.
A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Wilson, who is black, said individual conversations with Norvell, who is white, did not happen. All he got was a group text message, he said.
“There was no one on one talk between us and coach,” Wilson said. “This is a lie and me and my teammates as a whole are outraged and we will not be working out until further notice.”
Players returned to campus Monday for voluntary workouts after a three-month absence because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Several teammates, including offensive lineman Darius Washington, who is black, supported Wilson’s comments. Standout receiver Tamorrion Terry, who is black, posted on Twitter that it was “crazy crazy” and later sent a cryptic emoji message that would make any Seminoles fan shiver: green and orange hearts with a grimacing face.
FSU held a team meeting Thursday morning, and Norvell publicly apologized for his comment.
In a statement, Norvell said some of the players responded to his group text message — in which he told his team that “we live in an unfair and volatile world but I want you to know that you are loved & counted on to make a difference for our country’s future” and that coaches were available to anyone who wanted to talk — but in-depth conversations didn’t happen with every player. Norvell also said Thursday that he was “proud of Marvin for utilizing his platform to express his reaction to my comments in an earlier interview.”
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“We will continue to communicate and work together to be part of the solution making our world a better place for ALL,” said Norvell, 38, who was hired from Memphis in December to replace fired Willie Taggart.
Linebacker Kevon Glenn, who is black, wrote on Twitter that the players “love our coach and we are together as a team.”
In an Instagram post, Wilson said the Seminoles took a stand, “got what we wanted & we are moving forward.” He also thanked Norvell for “encouraging me to use my platform and speak for what me and (my) teammates believe in.”
But Wilson’s most important statement came in a powerful 3½-minute video that had little to do with football and everything to do with the country’s ongoing conversation about race and racism.
View this post on Instagram
Took a stand we got what we wanted & we are moving forward 🗣!!! I appreciate @coachnorvell for encouraging me to use my platform and speak for what me and teammates believe in. Be the change that you need when you was growing up and help build black communities up and take back what is ours
Wilson said he wanted to take a stand because of “our oppression we’ve been going through for over 400 years.” FSU’s team meeting, Wilson said, ended with three results.
Everyone on the team is going to register to vote to have their voices heard, he said.
The Seminoles will help raise money and potentially take other steps to help more black children go to college. “We need more doctors,” Wilson said. “We need more lawyers. We need more politicians. We need more people with say-so of color.”
FSU will do more to help poor children in Tallahassee, Wilson said.
“It really ain’t fair,” he said. “Going back and seeing different kids going through the same struggle I had to fight growing up … me being a man of color, I want to be that change.”
Wilson, who will be a senior next season, said one way he wants to be that change is by returning in a year or two after he goes into the NFL. He will have tattoos, maybe earrings and chains, “but at the same time, I’m going to be a millionaire — an educated millionaire with a degree,” said Wilson, who could have been a first-round draft pick this year but stayed at FSU in part to finish his education.
“I’ll be able to tell them kids that you can be whatever you want in this world if you put your mind to it and you work hard, because you come from royalty.
“You are black, and you should be proud of that. You stand for something, and you mean something. You have a story to tell, and that story needs to be heard, no matter what.”
Contact Matt Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.