RENTON Doug Baldwin continues to do more than just talk his articulate talk.
The Seahawks’ No.-1 wide receiver and one of the NFL’s leading advocates for criminal-justice reform announced Wednesday the team’s players fund he helped start in late September to support social causes has raised almost $1 million. He said the money has come from teammates, team owner Paul Allen’s and coach Pete Carroll’s foundation, general manager John Schneider and his wife and citizens around the Northwest.
Baldwin also announced the first seven social-activism causes receiving grants of $15,000 to $25,000 each from the Seahawks’ players fund.
They are: Being Empowered Thru Supportive Transitions, Not This Time!, the Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team, American Friends Services Committee, Safe Futures Youth Center, TeamChild and the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.
”We are going to start this year with seven inaugural grants,” Baldwin said Wednesday before practice for Sunday’s game at Dallas for desperate survival in the NFC playoff race. “We have worked with the Seattle Foundation in identifying what organizations align with our core values as the players’ fund, so $125,000 will be awarded this year.”
In September, five days after the Seahawks all stayed inside their locker room in Tennessee during the national anthem before a game to protest the mistreatment of minorities, the need for police reform in this country and President Donald Trumps criticism of NFL players protesting, Baldwin announced the start of the Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund. The goal of the fund is “to support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice” in the United States.
”This is not the end,” Baldwin said Wednesday. “There is still more work to be done and there will be more work done. But what I think I am most proud is the collaboration that we have had between a number of different entities, individuals, organizations to come to support this fund. But not only this fund, the idea that we can have a huge impact on the communities that we live in, on our state, on the local level. And then, obviously, national as well, in ways that maybe nobody really fathomed before.
”But if we work together--which I think this fund has been a beautiful example of people working together to actually enact those changes, effectuate change--I think that is what I am most proud of.”
Baldwin is a Stanford graduate and son of a law-enforcement and Homeland Security officer. He has been a face and voice of the Seahawks’ protest movement this week nationally--and since last year. That’s when he met and talked with police organizations from across the state and with Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Baldwin has been advocating the need for new training and policies for police in their use of deadly force.
This fall Baldwin wrote a letter to Congress that he got NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to co-sign. Baldwin’s letter was to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has been considering legislation on criminal justice reform, and three of Grassley’s congressional colleagues.
”I think for most of us, we understand that we might not see the actual impact on a large scale in our lifetime,” Baldwin said. “But there is obviously something in us as humans compelled to do better in life, and whether that means with our families, with our teammates, or in our communities, we feel compelled to utilize what we have been given to make the world a better place and
”I mean, I would like to think that there would be a great huge impact that I would be able to tangibly see and measure in my lifetime. But the truth of the matter is that that might not happen. The things that a lot of civil rights’ leaders did, they didn’t see the fruits of their labor but we are a product of that. And I’m not trying to compare myself or anybody else to what has been done in the past, but I just know I feel compelled that there is still a lot of work to be done.
”And so I hope that my kids and my grandchildren will be able to reap the benefits of that.
"I hope this is a model, that people realize it takes effort to be empathetic."