NFL stars ask if it will take their murder by police for league to say Black Lives Matter

Several of the NFL’s biggest stars are not happy with the league’s handling of peaceful protests and reaction to the killing of George Floyd.

So — in a single, powerful video — they came together to ask the NFL some pointed questions. Specifically, will it take one of them dying from police brutality for the league to start listening to its players?

NFL stars ask league to condemn racism, admit past silencing of players

On Thursday, several NFL stars simultaneously released the same video in which dozens of black players lend their voice.

Invoking the names of Floyd and 12 other African Americans killed by police or other figures, the players requested the league admit wrongdoing in silencing past player protests, and condemn racism and systematic oppression.

First posted by Saquon Barkley, the video also features Tyrann Mathieu, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Patrick Mahomes, Ezekiel Elliott, Chase Young, Deshaun Watson and many others.

A transcript of the video:

It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered. How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players? What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality? What if I was George Floyd?

I am George Floyd. I am Breonna Taylor. I am Ahmaud Arbery. I am Eric Garner. I am Laquan McDonald. I am Tamir Rice. I am Trayvon Martin. I am Walter Scott. I am Michael Brown Jr. I am Samuel DuBose. I am Frank Smart. I am Phillip White. I am Jordan Baker.

We will not be silenced. We assert our right to peacefully protest. It shouldn’t take this long to admit. So, on behalf of the National Football League, this is what we, the players, would like to hear you state: We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter.

Saquon Barkley and several other Pro Bowlers want the league to take a more aggressive stance against racism and systematic oppression. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Saquon Barkley and several other Pro Bowlers want the league to take a more aggressive stance against racism and systematic oppression. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

The video comes after what many feel is a lackluster reaction from the league to the death of Floyd in police custody.

Several teams have dragged their feet on releasing any statement in reaction to Floyd’s death and few of the ones that spoke have pledged any real action.

NFL releases statement in response

Update: The NFL released a statement via its Instagram account later Thursday acknowledging “we know that we can and need to do more.”

The statement:

“This is a time of self-reflection for all — the NFL is no exception. We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter. Through Inspire Change, the NFL, Players and our partners have supported programs and initiatives throughout the country to address systemic racism. We will continue using our platform to challenge the injustice around us. To date we have donated $44 million to support hundreds of worthy organizations. This year, we are committing an additional $20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work. We know that we can and need to do more.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement released Saturday was roundly criticized as lip service, especially given the hypocrisy of such words after Colin Kaepernick was frozen out of the league. Goodell’s statement didn’t mention the words “racism,” “police” or “Black Lives Matter,” and it didn’t acknowledge the past silencing of player protests against racial inequality.

Another hot point of contention came Wednesday, when New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees repeated his past criticism of such protests during the national anthem as disrespectful to the American flag and military, despite the protest originating from the advice of an ex-Green Beret. Brees later apologized after an enormous backlash that included several of his own teammates.

Floyd’s death has put racial inequality at center stage in America, and the NFL has many of its most high-profile players publicly demanding the league take stronger action. We’ll see if any change comes from it.

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