Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud had an incredible Sunday as he led the team to a victory in the final seconds against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But the win and setting the rookie record for most passing yards in a single game wasn’t the only thing on his mind when he came to the podium to talk to reporters.
Stroud took the opportunity to talk about his father, Coleridge Bernard Stroud III, who remains incarcerated after receiving a 38 years to life sentence after pleading guilty in 2016 to carjacking, kidnapping and robbery charges in a drug-related incident.
“What I’ve been battling with is trying to still be a family man, still help out, and still be a football player and do my job,” Stroud said. “It’s been tough.”
Stroud, who has been open about his faith in the past, has relied on a strong support system with his family and friends even through his father may not see him play. He said he was praying his father could catch a break and get to NRG Stadium one day to see him play.
Coleridge Stroud III has been in prison since the quarterback was in middle school and is currently serving time at Folsom State Prison near Sacramento. He said, initially, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to speak out publicly but was moved to support his father and others in prison.
“Our criminal justice system isn’t right, and it’s something that I need to probably be a little more vocal about, because what he’s going through is not right,” C.J. Stroud said. “He called me this week, and we got to talk, and I’m praying for the situation and a reform, and the people with reform are helping me a little bit.
“But, I think just letting it be known that it’s not just my dad’s situation, but the whole criminal justice system is corrupt.”
The quarterback said he was also upset by videos he’s seen of squalid conditions at prisons in Mississippi.
“Some of the prisons there have rats, roaches and things like that,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong — criminals, they should do their time, but they’re still humans, know what I mean? I just want to shine a light on that really quick.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.