The NFL is broadening its means of displaying an allegiance to combating social injustice with new messaging displayed on football fields and players’ helmets this season.
In 2020, players were seen adorning their helmets with name decals of Black and brown victims of police brutality. But this year, the league has opted for a more uniform approach, giving players a chance to choose from decals with sayings such as “End Racism,” “Stop Hate,” “It Takes All of Us,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Inspire Change” and “Say Their Stories.”
But that’s not where the social justice messaging ends. Stadium and at-home spectators also will notice revamped end zone messages on every team football field like “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism.” One exception is that when a club is recognizing a different cause such as saluting the troops, one end zone’s messaging will be changed to align with that specific cause — for example “Salute to Service.”
“We are committed to Inspire Change and the social justice work that inspires change for the long-term,” Anna Isaacson, NFL senior vice president of social responsibility, told The Associated Press.
The league’s social efforts all fall under its Inspire Change platform, which aims to have all 32 clubs match player contributions given to local social justice organizations.
The final two weeks of the regular season will include every club displaying matching banners, goal post wraps, video graphics and more as a show of solidarity.
“That will provide a unified time frame for us to further amplify all of the work that our clubs are doing and that will lead into the playoffs where Inspire Change will continue to take center stage,” Isaacson said. “The key message for us as the season is starting, we are ramping up again in a big way with our social justice work.”
The league’s promise of using $250 million, which was introduced in 2020, over the span of 10 years to combat systemic racism still stands. Its “Say Their Stories” initiative features players honoring and recounting the encounters of people such as Ahmaud Arbery, Alton Sterling and others with police.
Additionally, the league previously announced it would continue to play “Lift Every Voice”, also referred to as the Black national anthem, before the “Star Spangled Banner” at select events and games. The playing of “Lift Every Voice” kicked off amid the uptick of protests against police brutality in 2020.
The song’s history dates back to the 1900s, when it was just a hymn, and was first performed as a celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday by 500 students from the segregated Stanton School in Jacksonville, Florida. However, its use during the civil rights movement made it a staple and earned it the reputation as the Black national anthem.
Link to original Atlanta Black Star