Sports Stars Including Tom Brady and Gregg Popovich Call for End of Qualified Immunity

More than 1,400 athletes and coaches from the NFL, NBA and MLB wrote to Congress

NFL player Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Hobe Sound, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty for The Match)
NFL player Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Hobe Sound, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty for The Match)
Getty Images for The Match

In a letter that has been sent to Congress, more than 1,000 pro athletes and coaches from the NFL, NBA and MLB voiced their support for the Ending Qualified Immunity Act.

Players and coaches who attached their name to the letter include Tom Brady, Odell Beckham Jr., Drew Brees, JJ Redick, Chris Archer, Matt Kemp, CC Sabathia, Giancarlo Stanton, Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich.

Introduced by Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Justin Amash of Michigan in response to multiple recent examples of police misconduct, including the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the proposed legislation would remove defense or immunity from civil liability from police officers that “brutalize or otherwise violate the civil rights” of citizens. (For more on qualified immunity, see Sunday’s episode of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.)

Spearheaded by the Players Coalition, a group of former and current NFL players that is working to end social injustices and racial inequality, the letter urges Congress to pass the Amash-Pressley bill and end the protection that has “shielded some of the worst law enforcement officials in America.”

“It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity, and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley bill,” the letter reads in part. “When police officers kill an unarmed man, when they beat a woman, or when they shoot a child, the people of this country must have a way to hold them accountable in a court of law. And officers must know that if they act in such a manner, there will be repercussions. A legal system that does not provide such a recourse is an illegitimate one. In their grief, people have taken to the streets because for too long, their government has failed to protect them. The Courts and elected officials alike have instead shielded people who caused unspeakable harm. Congress must not be complicit in these injustices, and it should take this important step to show that law enforcement abuse will not be tolerated.”

Other notable signers of the letter include Adrian Peterson, Quenton Nelson, Jim Kelly, Gardner Minshew, Andrew McCutchen, Cameron Maybin, Baker Mayfield, George Kittle, Kam Chancellor, Tony Gonzalez, Doug Baldwin, Melvin Gordon, Dee Gordon and Erik Spolestra.

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