End zone dances will mingle with “social justice” messages when the NFL takes to the field in September.
The league has sent teams a memo outlining a multifaceted plan that includes slogans around the end zones and helmet decals honoring what it called “victims of systemic racism.”
“As we continue to amplify and elevate the NFL’s ongoing and long-term commitment to social justice, we will be incorporating several prominent elements on the field, into all broadcasts and across league and club platforms to begin the NFL season and beyond,” the memo read, according to NFL.com.
End zone borders will include stencils with “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism.”
The memo also outlined how players can honor the victims of systemic racism.
“Each player will have the option to honor an individual by displaying that person’s name via a decal on the back of their helmet,” the memo said, according to ESPN.
“Players will be offered a list of names and short biographical information to help guide their decision-making, however, they can also select a victim of systemic racism who is not represented on this list,” the memo said.
The names depicted on players’ helmets in a tweet Monday from NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero were George Floyd, who died May 25 in Minneapolis police custody; Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville police March 13; Botham Jean, who was shot and killed by an off-duty Dallas officer in 2018; and Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot Feb. 23 while jogging near Brunswick, Georgia.
The helmet decal decision stands in stark contrast to the NFL’s refusal to allow the Dallas Cowboys to wear an “Arm in Arm” decal honoring five police officers who were killed in an ambush during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2016.
The NFL also will allow coaches to wear patches on their hats honoring victims of systemic racism, ESPN reported.
In addition, the league will honor “essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.
“Featured on each club’s seat covering between the 30-yard lines, there will be messaging thanking these frontline workers,” the memo said, according to ESPN.
The NFL’s embrace of social justice causes has intensified in the wake of Floyd’s death and the subsequent nationwide protests and riots.
Do you think the end zone messages and helmet decals are a good idea?
Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared to encourage players to take a knee during the national anthem in a video posted to Twitter on June 5.
“We the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” he said.
Many on Twitter savaged the NFL’s actions.
The memo said that everything being rolled out for the nation’s football fans was done in concert with the NFL Players Association.
The final products were the result of work done by owners on the Social Justice Working Committee — Gayle Benson of the New Orleans Saints, Michael Bidwill of the Arizona Cardinals, Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons, Dee Haslam of the Cleveland Browns and Shad Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars — along with Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who chairs the Workplace Diversity Committee.
Prior to every Week 1 game, a recorded version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which has been called “the black national anthem,” will be played.
The league is scheduled to open its season Sept. 10 with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.
The NFL isn’t the only sports league to embrace social justice this season.
The basketball courts being used by the NBA in its Orlando, Florida, bubble have the slogan “Black Lives Matter” painted on the floor, and players can choose from a list of preapproved social justice messages to wear on their jerseys.
MLB also has had “Black Lives Matter” on the field as well as on players’ batting practice shirts.
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