Former NFL receiver and Players Coalition co-founder Anquan Boldin is sharing a personal tragedy in a public service announcement by the NFL.
Players Coalition co-founder Anquan Boldin, who played for the 49ers from 2013 to 2015, shared a poignant personal tragedy in the signature public-service spot of the NFL’s Inspire Change platform during Sunday’s conference championship games.
In the spot that will run through Super Bowl Sunday, Boldin shares his inspiration to launch social justice work: the 2015 shooting death of his cousin Corey Jones, 31, at the hands of a plainclothes police officer after his car had broken down on Interstate 95 in Florida.
A jury in West Palm Beach last year found ex-police officer Nouman Raja guilty of armed manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder in the death of Jones.
Prosecutors said Raja didn’t identify himself to the stranded motorist as a police officer when he arrived in an unmarked white van with tinted windows and approached him while wearing plain clothes and a baseball cap.
Raja was on duty doing burglary surveillance when he shot Jones several times in the encounter caught on audio.
“There are just some things that are bigger than football and I felt like starting the Players Coalition and effecting change in this country was one of those things,” Boldin says in the 60-second spot that debuted during the AFC Championship Game.
“Had it not been for the work that we do, Corey’s death would have been in vain,” Boldin says in the PSA, concluding, “The best way to inspire change is to be it.”
The league launched the initiative, which emphasizes education and economic development, community and police relations, and criminal justice reform, in 2019 in connection with its teams and the Players Coalition, a group of current and former players that works for social justice.
The league and the players had established a working relationship in 2017 following player demonstrations for social justice during the national anthem.
“The issues that NFL players brought to the forefront do not only impact players. These are American issues that affect us all,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s senior vice president of social responsibility.
“The NFL is fortunate to have an incredible platform and with this platform, we have the opportunity to help create positive change and work toward social justice for all of our communities. We’re amplifying and supporting the work that players have started — this is what Inspire Change exists to do.”
The NFL has been running player PSAs in the playoffs. This month, the league awarded $3 million in grants to grassroots organizations.
“This is a personal and family tragedy,” Isaacson said, “but the spot is really about what came from that tragedy and that’s all this great work on social justice.“
Arnie Stapleton is an Associated Press writer.
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