The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs line up together on the field before the start of an NFL football game on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

“It Takes All of Us”: the NFL Fight for Social Justice

By: Jennifer McGraw

 Four years ago, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee while the National Anthem played. He followed this advice from retired Army Green Beret Nate Boyer. He is just one of many A-list athletes to stand against police brutality. This action sparked national controversy and backlash with Kaepernick penalized and let go of the 49ers for his actions. Little did anyone in the NFL, let alone the world, that another controversial knee would be taken that sparked worldwide outrage. 

Defending Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs, arm-in-arm with Houston Texans for moment of unity in response to cry for social justice during the Thursday, September 10, 2020 season-opening game. | Photo: Houston Chronicle

May 25: The Day That Changed Everything

     George Floyd. A name that will go down in history amongst too many others’ lives taken due to police brutality. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd’s name went down in history after police killed him in Minneapolis, Minnesota following Mr. Floyd’s arrest. Derek Chauvin, the officer that killed Mr. Floyd, had his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Videos of the incident surfaced on the Internet after the homicide, which sparked national outrage and protests.

What to Expect in the 2020-21 NFL Season

     The COVID-19 has provided great uncertainty. Adding to that, the NFL made significant decisions to aid in the fight for social change. The NFL responded with clear change within the organization since Kaepernick’s initial protest. The NFL created the NFL Social Justice Initiative in 2019. This initiative aims to help educate others about social injustice. This program also focuses on educating youth about African-American history. In addition, donates to schools as well as for grass-roots organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

With the events that took place to combat social injustice in 2020, the National Football League followed suit. According to a NFL blog website, the changes to come in the football organization’s 101st season will be loud. The athletes’ will have the option to wear an approved National Football League Player Association shirt while warming up. These shirts will read “Injustice against one of us is injustice against all of us.”. They can also an approved slogan on the back of their helmet during games. The slogans found on the athlete’s practice gear this season include, “Stop Hate”, “It Takes All of Us”, “End Racism”, or “Black Lives Matter”. The NFL will be putting the phrases “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” on each end zone of the stadiums.

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What Else Will Spectators Expect in the NFL?

     The NFL’s season-opening game proved to be a prime example of what spectators will witness during the NFL’s 101st season. Prior to kick-off before the National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” played throughout the stadium. The defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Houston Texans participated in protests, but in different ways. After that, the National Anthem played where athletes protested again in different ways. Some stayed in the locker rooms, some decided to kneel, and some raised their fist in the air. Both teams came together arm-in-arm to stand in unity with one message in mind: It takes all of us.

     The NFL made these changes is to take the pressure off of individual players who might be scrutinized for support of the movement. In years passed, any athlete, like Kaepernick, who used his or her voice for politics received backlash with comments like “just stick to your job” or that they are “already making a lot of money”. Why? Like with Kaepernick, you could run the risk of unemployment and not be hired by any team in the NFL.

     The NFL made its voice heard made to make their message clear about Black Lives Matter and unity. There is no doubt that this is the future of the organization as we continue to fight social injustice together. It’s time that this movement has become a major part of everyone’s lives. The NFL made necessary changes so its players can use their voice to fight social injustice and end policy brutality.

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