49ers' Sherman, other NFL players hold discussion in Oakland on criminal justice system reform

We’re used to seeing NFL players on the field. They entertain. However, many of them say there's more to them then what you see on the gridiron. 

"I think people that say we should stick to sports, or that we’re getting too political, are narrow-minded and close-minded," said San Francisco 49er Richard Sherman.  

That's why Sherman teamed with fellow football stars to form the Players Coalition. The group uses their voices and notoriety to effect positive change and to improve social justice and racial equality nationwide. There stop on Friday is Oakland's New Parkway Theater to discuss the Alameda County district attorney's race. 

"Nothing that we're doing is endorsing specific candidates. All we're simply doing is trying to encourage people to see what's going on in their communities," said Malcolm Jenkins, co-founder of Players Coalition and Philadelphia Eagles 

The players had specific questions and used others from the audience. Some of the topics were bail reform, voter rights and police accountability. The players said these issues are important to them and that they know firsthand about racial inequalities and how it can harm others.  

"I'm from Compton and Watts California. We deal with a lot of the same issues that the east side of Oakland deals with," said Sherman.  

"As athletes, we feel like we have a platform and ability to put pressure on those to answer the tough questions," said Jenkins.

The players say change needs to happen at the local level. However, to elicit positive change, everyone has to be at the table.  

"We wanted to make sure that we engage the police as we do this. Because we can't talk about police accountability without bringing in police,” said Jenkins. 

The players said they were happy with the forum, believe it was very successful and plan to hold more of these discussions. Though they were disappointed that Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley declined to show up.