The NFL will add social justice phrases to end zones in the 2020 season, mirroring activism engaged in by the NBA and other pro sports leagues.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the new initiative in a Tuesday conference call, saying that the league would paint the phrases “end racism” and “it takes all of us” in the end zones for each game, according to ProFootballTalk.
“The NFL stands with the black community, the players, clubs and fans confronting systemic racism. We will not relent in our work,” Goodell said.
The pro-football league has made a large push to embrace social justice in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Floyd, a black man, died after an arresting police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The Hennepin County medical examiner found a potentially lethal cocktail of fentanyl and methamphetamines in Floyd’s system during autopsy. Four former Minneapolis Police Department officers have been charged with crimes relating to Floyd’s death.
Floyd’s death set off a massive wave of unrest, sparking protests and riots across major American cities costing local governments and businesses tens of millions of dollars in damages. The recent shooting of Jacob Blake, who is also black, set off another round of protests centered in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Blake was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer after officers responded to a domestic disturbance report. Blake had an active warrant out for his arrest for a rape allegation. An officer shot Blake, who was armed with a knife, after he escaped police and attempted to get into a vehicle that did not belong to him and had children in the back, according to police. After one bullet severed Blake’s spine, he is unlikely to ever walk again, Blake’s attorney has said.
The Baltimore Ravens released a statement last week condemning Blake’s shooting as an act of “racial discrimination” and calling on elected officials to pass police reform.
“With yet another example of racial discrimination with the shooting of Jacob Blake, and the unlawful abuse of peaceful protestors, we MUST unify as a society. It is imperative that all people — regardless of race, religion, creed or belief — come together to say, ‘Enough is Enough,’” the Ravens said.
“This is bigger than sports. Racism is embedded in the fabric of our nation’s foundation and is a blemish on our country’s history,” the statement continued. “If we are to change course and make our world a better place, we must face this problem head-on and act now to enact positive change.”
Since the NBA moved to the Disney World “bubble” amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the pro basketball league has played each game with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” etched across each sideline. The NBA has also allowed players to wear jersey’s with pre-approved phrases written where their names would otherwise be.