Fangio, 61, gave his thoughts during a roughly 16-minute Zoom call with reporters. The head coach discussed his feelings on the death of George Floyd, as well as the league, police behavior and current social climate in the U.S.
“I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We’re a league of meritocracy, you earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don’t see racism at all in the NFL, I don’t see discrimination in the NFL,” Fangio told reporters, according to ESPN. “We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we’d all be great.”
Fangio gave a statement before opening his Zoom press conference today to questions, where he said he was “shocked” at the behavior by Derek Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, according to a tweet by Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic.
He said the officer should be punished to the full extent of the law while adding that his actions also “failed the 99 percent of the police that do a great job.”
“I was shocked, sad, and angry when I saw what the policeman do to a handcuffed George Floyd on his stomach that led to his death,” Fangio told reporters. “He should be punished to the full extent of the law of the crimes he was charged with in addition to being charged with treason for failing to uphold the badge and uniform he was entrusted with.
“I have the utmost respect and admiration for the police and job they do under trying circumstances. They allow us to have a great country on a daily basis. The Minnesota cop failed the 99 percent of the police that do a great job. And we are all paying a price for that.”
The comments come amid nationwide protests calling for an end to racial injustice and police violence, with some rioters and looters undercutting the message they are meant to bring.
Fangio deemed the issue of racism and behavior of some police a “societal issue that we all have to join in to correct,” not a “political issue.”
“I have listened to many people talk the last few days and the one that resonated with most is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,” Fangio said, according to Jhabvala. “He also recognized that 98 to 99 percent of the police do a tremendous job in tough situations and that we must all do what we can to correct the small percentage that don’t do a great job on a daily basis. Kareem was one person talking sensibly and with solutions.”
Head coach Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos looks on during a game against the Oakland Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High on December 29, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Fangio said the words of Jabbar and Broncos safety Justin Simmons especially resonated with him over a weekend of increasing unrest and said that sports brings people together “and I look forward to the Broncos and the NFL leading that charge.”
Simmons, the team’s 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, helped lead a peaceful protest in Florida on Sunday. He called for unity and non-violence.
Simmons implored a crowd to “understand that we are fighting for equality, not superiority. All lives matter when black lives matter. We pledge our allegiance to the flag for freedom and justice for all and we do not have our justice. So let’s understand that. We will get it, [but] not by force.”
The NFL is trying to expand the scope of the Rooney Rule, meant to increase the number of minority candidates interviewed for head coaching jobs, which Fangio has supported in the past, according to ESPN.
The Associated Press contributed to this report