CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and quarterback Josh McCown see problems in the United States of America, and they have taken their time away from football to address the situation with politicians on Capitol Hill.
Hawkins and McCown were two of five players in the National Football League who travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress regarding community relations with law-enforcement officials in the wake of several police-involved shootings across the country in the last 18 months.
“It was a very productive trip, voiced some concerns and kind of hear what they are doing from a law-making standpoint and how they are handling the issue in Washington,” Hawkins said. “We come from this community, and it is kind of our way to take it to the next step in this situation because it is something that affects the entire country. It is something that is important to me and the other guys that were down there. It was very productive.”
Hawkins and McCown were two of the five handpicked players by Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin to meet with Congress to discuss what is being done to improve to improve community relations after police-involved shootings in several cities, including Cleveland, Minneapolis and Baton Rouge among others.
“It is important because it is an issue,” Hawkins said. “It is not a new issue by any stretch of the imagination for decades and decades. The difference is we have the opportunity to affect it. I feel like [we do]. Hell, maybe we don’t, but who are we if we don’t take advantage of our influence and try. I feel the platform we are given is a special one. I feel like a lot of guys feel that way. We are just trying to use it to the best of our ability.”
“The most encouraging thing, I don’t think it was anything specific, it was the willingness of all the Congressmen to hear us out, be open with us and really just be open and committed to changing things for the better. Republican and Democrat, we met with everybody and it was open. It was great dialogue. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to meet with them and be able to hopefully create some change.”
According to Hawkins, rather than getting “caught up in thinking either this side or that side is right or wrong,” the best way to keep things moving in a positive direction is by keeping lines of communication open between concerned citizens and law-enforcement and other government officials.
“Communication is the only way to solve anything,” Hawkins said. “That was the main focus of this entire thing. It wasn’t anything more than that. The next steps will come, and who knows? Maybe the communication is not going to be as great throughout the entire process, but that is fine. This is a start and this is a change, a focus on change. It is a very important step in the process.”