Former NFL player Miles McPherson on ‘third option’ for police relations: ‘Division is what’s killing our country’

The ex-pro athlete has developed a unique model for addressing police brutality in the United States

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Miles McPherson is the senior pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego, a former professional football player, father, son, and successful author of the book The Third Option

As a Black man in America, son of a police officer and father of a police officer, McPherson has a unique perspective on the current issues of the world. In 2018, he released The Third Option to provide readers the opportunity to engage in a conversation about community relations between Black people and the police. McPherson argues that you no longer have to choose sides, but instead can consider an option that can lead to change. 

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“We live in this ‘us vs. them’ culture,” he explained during an exclusive interview with theGrio. “It’s all about being on one side against the other, and that’s the nature and by definition, division. Division is what’s killing our country. The third option is that we honor what we have in common and that honoring and acknowledging that we are more similar than different [is] what’s going to bring us together.”

An important part of McPherson’s “third option” philosophy is the importance of having real conversations instead of arguments. He encourages the need for people to sit down and be ready to not only speak their views, but listen to their counterparts to find that middle ground. 

Miles McPherson is pictured in a promotional photo. Credit: Miles McPherson)

“I think if we step back and realize that we all want the same thing, we all want peace. We all want to get along. Can we civilly have a conversation as people and say, ‘How do we solve this problem?’ Not how do we solve this problem in my way,” the Third Option author stated. 

McPherson went on to state that although he isn;t against the protest, the next steps for change will take place after the protest 

“I’m not saying the protest are bad, but that’s not stuff– [it] is not going to be solved there. Its going to be when people say, ‘OK, because of the protest, let’s sit down and talk,'” he explained. “The problem is people bring their politics or their ideology to the table that they won’t budge from. That is what’s maintaining the division.”

Since writing the book, McPherson has launched a curriculum to educate and continue these conversations, titled Similarity Training, that in six session set to have conversations centered around similarities vs. differences. One important dialogue he brings up is race conversations vs. race consultations. 

“Whenever you see a human, even yourself, you know, that person’s what they are. You can’t not know it. So you’re having a race conversation, but what you need to do is have a race consultation where I allow you to self-disclose to me who you are. If I allow you to self-disclose to me, I also have to permit myself and my perspective to be challenged.”

Miles McPherson is pictured in a promotional photo. Credit: Miles McPherson)

The sessions have just opened up, but the curriculum was piloted on a group of police who shared that the method was a 100% game changer compared to other training.

“All the other training we get, they said, ‘You can’t say this, you got to do this.’ This one helped us discover our own bias in our heart,” a Similarity Training trainer shared in regards to their reviews. 

In regards to the recent protest and the NFL choosing to be more involved in the fight for racial justice, McPherson highlighted the differences between the pro football league and the NBA and WNBA in regards to social issues. 

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“They [NBA] have a very good relationship with their commissioner, and so they work together. NFL up until this year has had a very contentious [relationship],” he explained. “Not very, but you know, owners own you. Now the owners are like, ‘OK, let’s work together to handle these things.’ So I think the NFL is finding a voice like that like never before. I think it’s a good thing…the change is that there’s a partnership with the owners.”

McPherson continues to use his platform as a pastor and speaker to share his opinions and experiences. Fans can find his book, The Third Option, on the web or purchase directly from his website, and listen to sermons and speaking engagements via social media and on the Rock Church YouTube channel. 

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