The head coach of the University of Memphis football team, Ryan Silverfield, announced that his team will wear “BLM” stickers on their helmets this season, apparently making them the first Division I football team to do so.
Silverfield tweeted, “This season, for every game, our student-athletes’ helmets will have a BLM sticker. #ALLINagainstRACIALINJUSTICE.” He told The Memphis Commercial Appeal, “The use of the BLM logo on a helmet decal was an idea from our student-athletes. It doesn’t mean we support any anti-American, violent organization or hate group or any specific political party. In fact, I love this country and I love our players. Rather the decal is a show of support to our team.”
After being named head coach of the Tigers last December, Silverfield stated, “It’s not an overnight deal, but we’ve got to continue to grow and I’ve got to do a better job myself as a head coach because I understand that I have a platform, and I have to voice myself in order to have student-athletes backs and make sure they are not being treated unjustly in all walks of life,” according to WMC-TV. He told The Athletic, “This can’t just be a one-time thing where I send out a tweet or have one unity march. It’s got to be ongoing. I can’t think of a better way to show support than to put it on display and do it in a proud way.”
University of Memphis President M. David Rudd released a statement in which he said: “Our Tiger football team recently decided they will wear a Black Lives Matter emblem on their helmet during the upcoming season. I want to make it clear this does not represent endorsement of any political entity or affiliated group; it represents a commitment to social justice and American values we all embrace but have not fully realized as a country.”
— Dr. M. David Rudd (@UofMemphisPres) July 2, 2020
On June 14, University of Memphis student-athletes held a march regarding racism at which Silverfield stated, “Right now, tomorrow, and forever – we are all in for social justice. Today needs to stand for something. Have an understanding of why we are doing this walk … As we’re walking, as we are marching, as we’re together, think about what we are walking for. Think about the change we want to make. Every single day we need to continue to battle this and make a positive difference in our world. It starts with you. Student-athletes, you guys have a wonderful platform. Use it. Let’s be the difference makers.”
“Silverfield and his players chanted it (Black Lives Matter) at one point during their walk Sunday from the university’s south campus to main campus. He said that after listening to his players, he was challenged to make sure that not only did he support them, but did so publicly so they know where he stands on matters of racism and injustice,” The Memphis Commercial Appeal noted.
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