The NFL Will Say Their Stories
Heading into the 2020 season, the NFL family has set forth a number of initiatives to promote social justice and condemn racism in America.
On Wednesday, hours ahead of the kickoff of Week 1, the league shared a video outlining one of those initiatives in particular: #SayTheirStories.
The goal is to continue the theme of social justice, protest and outreach that has resonated throughout the nation, and enact fundamental change by amplifying the names and stories of victims of police brutality to drive the narrative forward:
"We've heard their names. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. The latest heartbreaking entries in a long, tragic, painful story. But they are more than names on a list. Even though the story of their lives ended far too soon, the impact of their lives continues to breathe and inspire in every corner of America.
A social justice movement that was recharged in late May following Floyd's murder has become a powerful catalyst for change across the nation — including the NFL. Throughout the 2020 season, the NFL family will honor victims of social injustice by wearing those victims' names on their hats and on their helmets.
"And most importantly, by telling their stories."
As part of the #SayTheirStories initiative, players, coaches, and officials can choose either the name of a victim or one of four pre-approved phrases from the NFL to display on their helmets or hats, including “Stop hate,” “It takes all of us,” “End racism” or “Black Lives Matter.”
The league will also allow teams to feature social justice messages, including “It takes all of us,” and “End racism” in the end zones at every stadium during the 2020 season.
A T-shirt displaying, “Injustice against one of us is injustice against all of us” on the front and “End racism” on the back, designed by NFL Players Association executive committee member and Houston Texans safety Michael Thomas, has been approved to be worn by athletes during warm-ups.
Players and coaches will be allowed to kneel during the national anthem, as confirmed by NFL Commissioner Rodger Goddell when he joined Emmanuel Acho’s YouTube show Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man last month.
In conjunction with the release of the #SayTheirStories video, a number of teams shared efforts of their own.
The Denver Broncos announced a team initiative to create change, promoting education, awareness, diversity and inclusion and activism in the franchise and their local community on Sept. 9.
The San Francisco 49ers selected the nine recipients of the $1 million in grants the team is awarding to organizations committed to social change on Sept. 9.
Team CEO Jed York announced the plans for the grants on May 30 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
The two-month selection process included members of 49ers ownership and the front office and 49ers team representatives from the Players Social Justice Council.
The nonprofit organizations had to focus on racial equality in policing, ending mass incarceration, or educational and economic advancement for young Black people.
The 49ers have also launched a video series, Subject to Change, with the first two episodes discussing race and police brutality, voter education and steps to take in the local community to promote change.
Stay tuned for more updates.