Texans' Romeo Crennel: 'Something Has To Be Done About Policing'

Brandon Scott
June 17, 2020 - 12:41 pm

(SportsRadio 610) -- Romeo Crennel has lived through America's difficult history with racism since the late 1940s. 

At his first job with Western Kentucky in 1970, he was the first black coach on the staff. Some years earlier, he'd been just the third black player on the team. 

As a coach there, Crennel said he arrived knowing the lay of the land what black people have to deal with. He understood that to have a chance for upward mobility, he had to be beyond reproach. 

Crennel later coached at Ole Miss in the late 70s, which he describes as a difficult time for his family. 

"They were a little behind the times," said Crennel, speaking with the McNair family in their second installment of "Conversations for Change."

The 72-year-old Crennel is encouraged by the recent movement to change policing and advocating for fair treatment of black people. 

He spoke about it at length with Texans owner and co-founder Janice McNair, CEO Cal McNair and his wife Hannah. 

Crennel said he was hurt by what happened to Houston-native George Floyd and also expressed frustration with the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisiville, Kentucky, which is Crennel's wife's hometown.

“Black people look at this and know that it’s happening and has been happening over the years. I think this time, because of the way it happened and why it happened the way it did -- so many people were watching and so many people are infuriated by the act. When you look at the protests, the diversity of the protests, the number across this country and also across the world -- as a result, conversations are developing about racism. Something has to be done about the policing."

The racism goes back more than 400 years, from slavery to Jim Crow laws, organized economic oppression, education gaps, mass incarceration and police brutality.

These are conversations black people are constantly having with each other, yet it is not something black people alone can fix. 

As Crennel notes, it feels like 400 years of the "same old, same old" without action and change.

Crennel is encouraged by the diversity of the marches and protests. But he's lived through too much to be naive. 

"I'm hopeful, but I might not hold my breath," Crennel said. "Until I can see the tangible evidence that things are changing. When you live it, it's hard to say different, because that's the way it is."

Crennel, whose father was an Army sargent and ran their home like a platoon, understands the weight of this moment to Texans players specifically.

Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Kenny Stills, Jacob Martin, Peter Kalambayi and Brandon Dunn are among the current players who have been vocal in their support for change.

Head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien has said he will kneel with players to promote anti-racism this season. 

The fire is hot, as Crennel put it, and now is time for action.

“I think about these players we have. Any one of them could have been George Floyd, very easily. That scares you. And that’s why it’s so important that we try to get something done now. If you have to wait five years for it to happen, sometimes things get swept under the rug. The fire is hot right now. … If we talk about (race) more and be honest about what’s happening, I think everybody will have a chance to see and understand why some of the things are happening, and then be ready to make a change. And so changing the police policies, that’s a step in the right direction. And then also understanding that the black race has been at the bottom of the totem pole for 400 years and that’s not going to change overnight. But if we get everybody doing a little bit, positive change, positive work, then we can make that change. And hopefully it will not be another 400 years of the same old, same old."

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