Maurice Jones-Drew’s 40-yard touchdown run against Green Bay on Friday was something to behold. The Raiders running back burst through a crease, shrugged off a pair of tackles and broke for the end zone in a dash.
His path was near perfect. His execution: Top notch. But what he did upon reaching the end zone was something truly profound. He released the ball at his side, dropped his gaze and raised his hands slowly above his head.
Jones-Drew spoke without speaking.
Hands up. Don’t shoot.
If the gesture looks familiar, it should.
It’s a symbol of surrender used to protest the fatal shooting of African-American teenager Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., as groups across the county mourn the tragic event.
In case you haven’t seen the Antioch native’s moment captured, check @Jones_Drew32’s twitter avatar. It’s there for all to see.
Afterward, Jones-Drew expressed solidarity with the peaceful parts of this movement.
“My goal is always to create awareness. That’s it,” Jones Drew said Tuesday. “If I could, I would’ve tried to be more vocal. But, with my job and what we have to do, it takes away from things you want to do. But, in that moment, I made a stance and I stick with it.”
Jones-Drew is a father to sons age 7, 6, and 3, and -- as it is for most men -- they’ve changed the way he thinks about things. Their safety is of obvious concern, especially when they’re not under his wing. It’s only human to think about tragic current events and how to prevent them at home. That’s through awareness and discussion, which is what Jones-Drew is trying to promote.
“I know what it’s like to get pulled over when you’ve done nothing wrong,” Jones-Drew said. “I’ve been through those things. When you’re raising three young boys, you have to think about those things. When they get older and they go out at night, am I going to have be the one to get that phone call? Those are things you worry about. That’s what I worry about as a father and what my mother worried about when I was growing up.
“Those are things I think we still need to talk about. We need to put it out there. That’s why I did that. I wanted to let the world know that it’s not okay. Right, wrong or indifferent, it’s not okay to do those things.”
Tragic, seemingly unnecessary shootings involving young African-Americans stick with Jones-Drew. He was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars when 17-year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Feb. 2012 in nearby in Sanford, Fla. It also really hit close to home when 17-year old Jordan Davis was shot and killed in Jacksonville in Nov. 2012. Jones-Drew said he went to the gas station where that incident occurred. The Aug. 9 incident involving Brown shocked him in a similar way.
Jones-Drew understands the protests and the events that have occurred in Ferguson, Mo. are controversial. He expressed himself in the moment. He stands behind the symbol and it’s meaning.
Hands up. Don’t shoot.
“In everything you do in life, some people are going to like it and others aren’t going to like it,” Jones-Drew said. “But that’s how I feel. You don’t have to feel that way. No one has to feel that way. That’s how I felt. The moment hit home. You’re reading the autopsy report and your boys walk in and you’re looking at them… you just never know, maybe it might be them one day.
“Again, I just want to create awareness. I know that one day I’ll have a talk with my sons, all three of them, about how you talk to police when you get pulled over. It’s a shame that we have to do that, but it’s a world we have to live in right now.”