When a gunman shot and killed 10 Black people in Buffalo, N.Y., last weekend, it hit close to home for former University of Utah football star Zack Moss.
Moss, now a member of the Buffalo Bills, addressed the racist attack this week on his podcast, Moss Mode & Friends. He said that after the tragedy, he didn’t want to go outside. He lamented that, even though he is a recognizable athlete in the NFL, the simple fact that he is an African American puts him in constant danger.
“I think this is the first time that I felt — being an athlete throughout my entire life and fortunately still doing it right now — that I felt unsafe no matter what,” Moss said on the episode that posted Wednesday. “I felt like if I was to go outside right now, you just never know.”
Moss said he hasn’t experienced much overt racism throughout his life because of his athletic status. When he has been pulled over by police officers in the past, they would usually recognize him and either let him go or give “a slap on the wrist,” he said.
But Moss then recalled a instance while he was in college at Utah — a story he said he has told less than a handful of times.
It was late at night and he was driving the 20 minutes from Rice-Eccles Stadium to where he lived after a game. About 10 minutes into his commute, he saw a police car pull behind his car. He said the police car followed him the remaining 10 minutes, and all the way up to his garage.
Moss then got out of his car slowly, he said, because it was so dark, and the police officer got out of his vehicle at the same time. Then the two had the following exchange, Moss recalled.
“Do you live over here?” Moss said the officer asked.
Moss said he did.
“OK, we just don’t see a lot of your kind around here,” Moss recalled the officer saying.
Throughout the exchange, Moss said he saw the police officer with his hand on his waist, which is usually where a firearm would be. He said “my heart was beating to the max” during the encounter.
Moss then said one of his teammates’ car pulled up while the exchange was happening. They told the police officer that they played for the University of Utah and had just gotten back from their game. The police officer then left, he said.
“When you’re an athlete, everyone looks at you differently,” Moss said on the podcast. “Being an athlete, color doesn’t matter in a way. Everyone loves you, no matter if you’re white, Black, Hispanic, whatever it may be. Everyone loves you and they see past that color barrier.”
Moss continued: “Now being in Buffalo and learning about all these new copycat things that are going on right now, I feel like this is the one time people wouldn’t look at me and go, ‘Hey that’s Zack or whatever.’ People will look at me and be like, ‘Oh that’s a color.’ … You just don’t know. That’s the scariest thing when it hits you so close.”
Moss was in Buffalo over the weekend and participated in his teammate Micah Hyde’s charity softball event, with some of the proceeds going to the families of the victims of the mass shooting. The Buffalo Bills Foundation will also donate $200,000 to relief efforts, an amount that will be matched by the NFL Foundation, the team said on Twitter.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.