CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Cleveland Browns player is tackling more than football this season, fighting for social justice and equality off the field.
Offensive tackle Chris Hubbard is using his platform as an NFL player to speak out for racial equality.
“You know a lot of people look up to us and think we’re super heroes. But we are human too. You know we deal with the same things on a daily basis as well,” Hubbard said.
He's starting by asking for another chance for children and teens who wind up behind bars.
The names and lives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor weigh heavily on Hubbard's mind.
“These things matter. And we won’t stand still anymore and let it go under the table. It has to be addressed, it has to be known, and something has to be done about it,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard is part of the Players Coalition founded just a few years ago by NFL players Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins.
The coalition’s goal is to make an impact on social justice and racial equality.
“I hope that everyone hears our voice and is behind us and stands with us. And continues to work through these times, to let everyone know that we’re going to work together, we’re going to make a change, we’re going to make a difference,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard is throwing his support behind Ohio Senate Bill 256, cosponsored by State Senator Nathan Manning (R- North Ridgeville).
The bill would abolish the sentence of life without the possibility of parole for kids and give juveniles serving long sentences in adult prison a chance at getting out early.
Hubbard and his teammate Kendall Lamm have been speaking out for the bill on social media.
“Just finding that justice so we can make a difference in the world and change this,” Hubbard said.
The United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth.
The Players Coalition reports 82 percent of kids headed to the adult court system in Ohio were black as of 2018, even though black Ohioans make up 14 percent of the population.
“Let them know, hey those young kids, they need to be out in the world and have a life too as well. They may have done wrong, but at the same time they deserve a life,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard knows how hard the past several months have been for a lot of Browns fans, especially when it comes to their mental health.
“I want them to know they’re not alone during these times, the pandemic, and everything that’s going on. They’re not alone, because I deal with it as well,” he said.
Senate Bill 256 has had four hearings and could be up for a vote sometime this summer.
Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association
19 News reached out to the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association for a comment, they are against the bill. Here’s their statement:
We are opposed to the bill as currently written and hopeful that we can reach a compromise. Providing a meaningful opportunity for parole for most youthful offenders is constitutionally necessary. But the bill goes way beyond that. It will result in significant sentence reductions for offenders who have committed multiple very serious crimes like rape and murder. No matter how many rapes an offender commits they could be released after 18 years. No matter how many murders a person commits they could never be sentenced to life without parole - not even someone like TJ Lane. The bill prioritizes getting these offenders out of prison as early as possible and does so at the expense of public safety, victim rights, and what justice demands.