Why Syracuse football is starting to speak up amid #NotAgainSU protest

first_imgAs incidents kept occurring, locker room conversations about the campus climate intensified. More players took to social media, following Cisco’s lead. Safety Evan Foster retweeted Gabrielle Union’s tweet on the protest. Walk-on wide receiver Kevin Johnson Jr. tweeted out “#NotAgainSU.” Moe Neal said after the Duke game he’d attended the sit-in to listen. Quarterback Tommy DeVito posted on his Instagram story on Tuesday the message from Renegade Magazine calling for classes to be cancelled following the sharing of the manifesto.When asked about the situation on campus the same evening, DeVito declined to speak on the matter, as did offensive lineman Carlos Vettorello.“It goes a long way,” Ruff said. “Because most people see us as — they kind of see as puppets on a string, they don’t expect us to speak out. But they know we have opinions. So the fact that we do speak out and they see us. It’s kind of, ‘OK we’re behind you as well. We don’t stand for this either.’”Gauging how and whether to engage with situations like the current one and Theta Tau falls on the players. The current situation, players said, feels like more of a groundswell of hate on a campus that’s supposed to be safe and welcoming. That element — one originally iterated by Cisco more than a week ago — has driven participation from players.It’s also difficult to openly criticize the institution that pays for your education, players said. Babers controls scholarships, and players trust their head coach would never punish a player in such harsh a fashion as stripping one’s scholarship for speaking their mind. As a whole, players said, Babers doesn’t encourage or discourage them from speaking up, regardless of his own feelings on the matter at hand.“Coach Babers understands in that situation you have a platform as a student-athlete and as a leader on campus to speak on something that may be important to you,” said Zaire Franklin, former SU linebacker from 2014-18 and three-year captain. “And just when you speak on something, be educated about it and just understand the possible ramifications of the things you say.”As some of the most public faces of the student body, Ruff knows he and his teammates can have an incredible reach when they open their mouths.That, in part, is why Ruff wants to speak at the sit-in. He’s tired of feeling like he’s on the sidelines, he said. The team felt comfortable sending him, knowing the senior defensive tackle’s affable locker room presence lends itself to Ruff delivering a message the whole team can publicly stand behind.The hope, then, is that others can stand behind them.— Senior Staff Writers Eric Black and Josh Schafer contributed reporting to this story Comments Kenneth Ruff Jr. woke up around 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning and read the same email he and 104 of his Syracuse football teammates received.As Ruff processed the events described in the email — a white supremacist shooter’s manifesto allegedly being posted online and shared on campus — his attention turned to the quickening pulse of text notifications buzzing his phone. Ruff, a senior who keeps in touch with as many players as possible, sifted through notes of anger, confusion and disappointment from teammates present and past.“I’m sad,” Ruff said Tuesday. “I don’t like to be like this. You know how I am. I smile all the time. And it’s been hard to do that today, especially when I have my girlfriend calling me asking me if I could walk her to class because she’s scared.”A day after Dino Babers said in his weekly press conference the team hadn’t addressed the matter as a whole, every player and coach was in the football auditorium on Tuesday morning.After a video detailing Theta Tau displaying “extremely racist” behavior was published in 2018, the football team collectively decided to keep any discussion on the issue in house. A similar conclusion was reached after the Ackerman Assault last winter. Even after Jim Boeheim visited protestors at the sit-in in the Barnes Center at the Arch, Babers deflected from the matter.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think it’s the Constitutional right that you can protest anything, have free speech. It’s all written into the Constitution,” he said at his Monday press conference.But by Tuesday night, Ruff was in communication with the #NotAgainSU movement searching for a time he could address the protestors on behalf of the football team. Amid the recent spree of hate speech and bias-related incidents at Syracuse, the football team has started to take part in campus conversations it previously shied away from.“Now it’s, ‘Maybe we need to use our voice,’” Ruff said.All-American sophomore safety Andre Cisco made the first public comment, quote-tweeting an article about racial slurs being written in Day Hall and captioning it “…” Later that night, he explained his frustrations.“This is my fourth semester, and this is the third racist act that’s happened,” Cisco said then. “It bothers me a lot, just knowing who I am as a black man and what I stand for. At a school like this, I came here partially because I felt like black people were well represented up at Syracuse.”The ensuing Saturday against Duke, Cisco wore cleats with #NotAgainSU written on them to stand in solidarity with the protest occurring on campus, saying after the game he felt the protestors deserved recognition. Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on November 20, 2019 at 11:27 pm Contact Andrew: aegraham@syr.edu | @A_E_Grahamlast_img

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