Billy Turner’s Shirt

The first time I wore Billy Turner’s shirt, I complained about the fit. The sleeves pinched and the stomach bagged. So, I put it away and figured I’d never wear it again. I had nothing against the shirt itself. It just didn’t fit me right.

I had ordered it because I wanted to support both Billy’s foundation, Kind Energy, and the man himself, good ole No. 77 for the Green Bay Packers. My dad wore that number when he played for the team from 1961 through 1968 and, since then, I’ve tried to be extra supportive of the players who followed.

With his focus on peace and positivity, Billy has been easy to support. His “Kindness for COVID” campaign, which calls for everyone to do one act of kindness a day “to spread a little joy at such a weary time” especially spoke to me.

Plus, he seems like a very cool, very creative soul.

So, I bought the shirt and paid a little extra to have it hand painted by him.

In addition to being a philosopher/artist/lineman, Billy is also a Minneapolis resident and a person of color. As such, he has been an especially passionate voice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

He has made many efforts to conduct reasonable conversations about what’s going on in this country. “I am hopeful that there is a lot of progress that can be made to help educate and change the problems that stem from all kinds of racism,” he wrote during one such conversation. “Specifically, for humans who don’t believe a divide in equality exists or that a problem exists at all.”

I started to think about kindness again and how I had always told my children how easy it was to be kind. Maybe it isn’t so easy after all. Maybe kindness requires a little more work. Maybe you have to allow yourself to be a little uncomfortable to generate “kind energy”.

I put the shirt back on this week and walked it around town, paying a little less attention to the sleeves and a little more to the message.

I think we could all use a little more kind energy in this world and I’m going to work a little harder to add to it.

Sometimes you have to rise to the challenge of kindness. The sleeves might be tight but the message is pure.

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