With just less than two weeks until the start of the NFL season, there continues to be social injustice in our world today. The shooting of Jacob Blake last Sunday prompted many NFL teams to stand up and protest police brutality and social injustice.
Teams like the Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Washington Football Team, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Chargers have all canceled their practices late last week to discuss and protest social injustice, Fox News reports. This is crucial because there are no preseason games in 2020 and each teams must rely on their preseason camps to get them prepared for the season.
Titans Together ✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/4YbLOPDkoC
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) August 27, 2020
The teams’ decisions to not practice followed when several MLB, MLS, WNBA and NBA games were boycotted following the Blake shooting. The main question is: Will we see NFL games being boycotted this season? If another event like Blake, George Floyd or Breanna Taylor occur during the NFL season, there is no doubt that games could get canceled. Players could go as far as boycotting the rest of the season.
Though many players think that boycotting games will help bring change to social injustice, some do not agree, including Packers tackle Billy Turner. “Yeah, we can go out there and boycott football games. What change is that going to bring initially and right away?” said Turner to ESPN. “The system that is so brutally and utterly ruining everything that is freedom in this country is what needs to change and there’s a strategic way that, I think you attack from the feet. You take the legs out, you work your way up and you try to make change that way and I think there is a strategic way that can happen.”
The NFL are in talks with the players union to do an extensive black lives matter and social injustice tribute for week 1, ESPN reports. Besides the black national anthem and allowing players to wear social injustice decals on their helmets and jersey, the NFL is planning to allow players to share their stories and experience with racism in their lifetime before the game. The letters of “END RACISM” will also be printed in the end zones of each team’s field for week 1, ESPN also reports.
Many NFL teams and players are now committed to make changes in their community and use their platform to spread the word to help fight racism.
Tennessee Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro plans to not speak about football to the media, instead he will try his best to use his platform to fight against social injustice, the New York Times reports. “We have a platform, and we should use that to help people understand what is right from wrong” said Vaccaro. He also adds “The next step is just taking action, getting in the communities, being a shining light and an example. Not just a hashtag. Not just a black square that everybody in the world posted on Instagram and thought that meant something. Not making this a movement, but making it a lifestyle.”
The shooting of Blake was especially very emotional for Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon who grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the town in which the Blake shooting occurred according to the ABC News. “I was so emotional because I have family that was out there that seen the shooting, and that could have been them” said Gordon. “That could have been one of my family members getting shot in the back seven times,” he added.
"After everything we've been through, everything we're trying to accomplish as a whole, and to still see actions like this, especially back at my home, it's just heartbreaking," Melvin Gordon, a running back for the Denver Broncos, told @ABC News. https://t.co/gC9n5QuUmX
— ABC News (@ABC) August 29, 2020
This is not the last time that players will speak up on racial discrimination, as this is only the beginning. Besides COVID-19, racial discrimination will have a huge effect throughout the NFL season. Be prepared for games being postponed due to boycotts from teams this season.