The NFL will wade deeper into the waters of social justice activism this season by allowing players to wear helmet decals honoring victims of perceived systemic racism, according to reports.
A league source told Jason Reid of ESPN’s The Undefeated that players will be given the option to choose names or initials of black men who died during fatal encounters with police offers.
The players can choose the name or initials of a victim of “police violence” and wear it throughout the entire 2020 season, the ESPN report said.
The NFL is planning to allow players to have decals on the back of their helmets bearing names or initials of victims of systemic racism and police violence, a league source told @JReidESPN. https://t.co/kRsfbBNUVv
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 21, 2020
A list of names and initials will be compiled by the league and the NFL Players Association, ESPN reported.
NFL.com reported on July 2 that the league was exploring the idea of allowing helmet decals or jersey patches for players following nationwide civil unrest after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
“In an ongoing effort to recognize social justice, the NFL is discussing with players the possibility of wearing helmet decals or jersey patches recognizing those impacted by systemic racism and police brutality throughout the 2020 season, NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reported Thursday, per a source with knowledge of the development,” the NFL.com report said.
“For example, a player could wear a helmet decal with ‘G.F.’ for George Floyd, whose death in May while in Minneapolis police custody has sparked a global reckoning over police brutality and racial prejudice,” the report said.
If the patches or decals are approved, individual players could opt in to wearing them, or entire teams could choose to wear them in solidarity, the report said.
“Throughout the 2020 season, the NFL will continue to amplify work done by its players and the families who are trying to address social justice issues,” it said.
The NFL also touted its 10-year, $25o million commitment to “combat systemic racism,” which was announced in June.
The report that the league will permit players to engage in on-field activism came a month after the NFL announced that all Week 1 games this season will begin with what it called “the Black national anthem.”
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” will be played prior to “The Star-Spangled Banner” before those opening games.
The league has not set a timetable for when its social justice helmet decals will be released.
The NBA already announced last month that players will be permitted to wear social justice slogans on their jerseys when the season resumes in Florida on July 30.
The league also announced that the basketball courts in Orlando, Florida, will have the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on them.
ESPN NBA reporter Malika Andrews shared an image of what those courts will look like Tuesday on Twitter.
The NBA season resumes on July 30 in Orlando.
Here is a closer look at the court, which features the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on it.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 21, 2020
The NBA and NFL will join Major League Baseball in embracing political activism in major professional sports.
MLB praised members of the San Francisco Giants who knelt during the national anthem during an exhibition game Sunday against the Oakland A’s.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 21, 2020
The league issued a number of tweets supporting anthem kneeling.
Supporting human rights is not political.
— MLB (@MLB) July 21, 2020
MLB claimed on Twitter that refusing to stand for the country’s flag “has never been about the military or the flag.”
It has never been about the military or the flag. The players and coaches are using their platforms to peacefully protest.
— MLB (@MLB) July 21, 2020
“The players and coaches are using their platforms to peacefully protest,” it said.
However, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the trend of anthem protests in 2016, he declared that it was about the flag.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said.
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