As monumental societal changes descends on our nation, words are becoming action. And a group of NFL players has put together a powerful 70-second video that sends a powerful message to America — and specifically to the National Football League.
“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” Saints receiver Michael Thomas says at the outset of the video.
“How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?” asks Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“What will it take?” says Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
“For one of us to be murdered by police brutality?” asks Browns receiver Jarvis Landry.
“What if I was George Floyd?” says Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
“If I was George Floyd,” echoes Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
“What if I was George Floyd?” asks Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
And then the players, a who’s who list that also includes men like Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot, make these declarations, one at a time: “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.”
Then comes the clear and unmistakable message to the NFL.
“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 systemic 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.”
And so the ball is now in the NFL’s court. Will a clear statement be issued condemning racism, declaring that black lives matter, and most importantly affirming the right of peaceful protest — even if it happens during the national anthem?
The clock is ticking.