NFL players are asking their league to stand with them with more than just lip service. On Thursday, football stars like Odell Beckham Jr., Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquan Barkley, and more (virtually) stood together to ask the National Football League executives to acknowledge how they've failed Black players in the past and state Black Lives Matter. They want more than social media statements, they want action and commitment to the cause.
"We will not be silenced."
"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?" the players ask the league in the video. "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."
They continue with the exact language they want to hear. "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.'"
Although the players do not call out league commissioner Roger Goodell directly, it's clear that change must happen. The fight against police brutality and racial injustice has been felt in the NFL, and was magnified when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee in 2016. While he was ostracized by the league then, the players are demanding their voices — and those same pleas that Kaepernick had in 2016 — be heard now.
It's important to note that while many teams have shared or reposted the players video, the official NFL account has not yet done so. Watch the message above, and find a list of organisations to donate to in support of racial justice here.