To display their commitment to combating social injustices, the NFL aired a one-hour TV special called “Inspire Change.” Music and movie icon, Queen Latifah, was the host; the special consisted of interviews and speeches by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The TV special revealed that the messages “End racism” and “It takes all of us” will be painted on the endzones of football fields. Players can also have the names of victims of police brutality on the back of their helmets.
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, quarterback Tyrod Taylor, running back Justin Jackson, and defensive end Isaac Rochelle were interviewed by Steve Wyche of the NFL Network.
Taylor noted how watching videos of George Floyd’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s killing was frustrating.
“I have grandparents, aunts [and] uncles who fought for the same things that we’re fighting for today,” Taylor said. “We’ve came a long way in this country, but it’s still a long way to go.”
Lynn is eager to see White players and staff act as vocal allies in the movement for Social Justice. He wants to provide an encouraging atmosphere for players to speak out.
“I’ve tried to build platforms for our players like what we’re talking about now to speak and bring more awareness on what’s going on,” Lynn said. “We need to get everyone, as many people as possible involved in this movement.”
Having a Black coach is a comfort to Jackson because they have shared personal experience in racism.
“That’s not to say a white coach can’t sympathize and empathize with you,” he said. “But it is nice to have someone that you know has been through it and you can have that conversation and you don’t feel like you have to educate.”
Rochelle has noticed that his White teammates are being more sensitive to racial inequalities.
“I think what they’re seeing more than anything is the experiences that we’re having as Black men,” Rochelle said. “I’ve had experiences just in this offseason—in the wake of George Floyd—where people are still being racist … and my white friends that I’m close with, they’re seeing these things firsthand.”
The beginning of the special acknowledged former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his national anthem protest along with the 2017 NFL protests.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said a tribute to late civil rights legend John Lewis.
“In America, not even 60% of eligible voters cast their ballots in the 2016 presidential election, almost half of America was silent,” Fitzgerald said. “The greatest tragedy of our silence is that it ignores the price that was paid by so many who fought for the power that we failed to exercise.”
Seattle Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett wrote a poem “Reality vs Perception” which was recited by him and several other NFL players including Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, safety Jalen Ramsey and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
Kenosha, WI natives Melvin Gordon of the Denver Broncos and Trae Waynes of the Cincinnati Bengals felt moved to take action in wake of the Jacob Blake shooting.
“At this point, it’s about making a stand, making a difference,” Gordon said. “People might not be okay but to hell with it, just do it. It’s time for action.”
For more updates on what the NFL is doing for social justice, visit https://www.nfl.com/causes/inspire-change and https://www.nfl.com/causes/votes/.