A handful of the NFL’s biggest stars collaborated to send a message to the league: Acknowledge racism, the oppression of black people and the “silencing” of players who’ve tried to peacefully protest both.
In a Zoom video posted Thursday on Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas’ Twitter feed, players such as Thomas, Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu, Ezekiel Elliott, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Jamal Adams and Saquon Barkley took turns speaking.
The script for the message, condensed to eliminate repetitions:
“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered. How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?”
“What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality? What if I was George Floyd?
“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.
“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 systematic 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.'”
The full list of players who took part, according to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman: Thomas, Mahomes, Mathieu, Elliott, Beckham, Landry, Watson, Hopkins, Adams, Barkley, Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, Marshon Lattimore, Anthony Barr, Chase Young, Davante Adams, Stephon Gilmore and Sterling Shepard.
Thomas spent part of Thursday listening to Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologize to teammates for voicing his opinion that he could “never agree” with people not standing for the national anthem, without acknowledging the actual issue that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was trying to address with his 2016 protest: police brutality against black people.
In his apology, Brees said that his original comments “completely missed the mark,” and Thomas offered him forgiveness.
“Let’s focus back on the real issues going on in the world,” Thomas wrote in a tweet. “And not get distracted.”