SJSU football players raise awareness about domestic violence in now-viral video

The San Jose State University football team is not afraid to combine macho with feminine.

Running backs DeJon Packer and Tyler Nevens, and defensive back Chandler Hawkins strutted, danced, and walked the streets in heels, alongside fellow teammates last week during the annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event sponsored by the YWCA Silicon Valley, in order to raise awareness about  domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. 

Little did they know that their silly dancing in stilettos would also would make their cause go viral. Since June 27, a video posted on the San Jose State football Twitter account has garnered nearly 2 million views. The guys boogied in the streets, wobbling and smiling in heels.

But behind the smiles, the players acknowledged the underlying somber theme of the event. 

"Wearing the heels made me see how hard things can be for a woman," Parker said. "Having never tried walking in heels before, it seemed easy, but it wasn't. I have a deeper appreciation for what women go through."  

He and his teammates were more than happy to join the national Walk a Mile event, which asks men around the country to raise awareness about domestic violence and find solutions to sexualized violence against women.

Packer said the San Jose walk hit home even more because he has relatives who have suffered from domestic violence themselves. 

Safety Tre Webb tweeted that it's important that men -- and football players -- not remain silent on this issue.

 "On our team we talk a lot about being the standard," he tweeted. "As young men, we must continue to hold others accountable and speak up when we know something isn't right.. because violence and assault against women should not be tolerated whatsoever." 

Tobruk Blaine spearheaded the Beyond Football program at San Jose State in order to coach the players beyond just the field and locker room, encouraging them to be a part of the solution, rather than further the problem of domestic violence and abuse.

Blaine said, "a core value SJSU football has is to treat others, especially women, with respect." 

SJSU's involvement domestic violence awareness are especially important in the wake of the criticism that the NFL has endured, Parker said.

"Above all," Parker said, "I hope that this video will shed a positive light on football players, showing that not all of us who play the sport engage in or even support such behavior. We care about women and we support them, which is why we were willing to step out of our comfort zone for this event".