Sources: NFL plans Week 1 social justice content

  • ESPN staff writer
  • Previously a college football reporter for CBSSports.com
  • University of Florida graduate

The NFL is planning extensive content around racial injustice for Week 1 of the regular season, sources told ESPN.

Among options discussed by the league and players union, according to a source involved: Players reading personalized poems and delivering first-person vignettes based on experience with racial injustice. These stories could be incorporated into gameday broadcasts.

This is in addition to recognizing victims of police brutality on the back of helmets and playing or performing what’s known as the Black National Anthem, ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,’ before the season-opening games, as ESPN Senior NFL writer Jason Reid reported in July.

The shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha (Wisc.) police prompted players across several sports – with the NBA playoffs as a springboard – sitting out games in protest.

Several NFL players and execs told ESPN this week that they mostly do not expect a Week 1 boycott, but the Arizona Cardinals did discuss that option in a locker-room meeting this week. A source with the Cardinals said emotions are raw this week and the players will continue discussions to see how everyone feels.

Many players consider kneeling during the National Anthem as a minimum for pregame setups this season, and stronger displays could be an option.

Giants tight end Evan Engram told ESPN that his team emerged from their team meetings eager to affect local communities, pleased that the NBA and other professional leagues set a tone for change.

“It comes down to accountability,” Engram said. “Law reform needs to be fixed. Say the word accountability — people need to pay for their actions. It’s frustrating and painful to see people committing these terrible things not getting punished.”

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