The N.F.L. will allow players to display messages of social justice on their helmets and will stencil the slogans “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” on the end zones at every field as part of an effort to show solidarity with the protest movements against racism and police brutality, league officials said.
As the league prepares for the first game of the season on Thursday, an N.F.L. spokesman said that players would be allowed to choose a decal with one of six messages to place on the back of their helmets: “End Racism,” “Stop Hate,” “It Takes All of Us,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Inspire Change” and “Say Their Stories.”
Last season, the N.F.L. also allowed players to display messages such as “Stop Hate” and “Black Lives Matter” on their helmets, as well as the names of Black people, such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery, whose deaths set off widespread protests.
The efforts represent a continued shift for the league, which in the past had been criticized as slow to support, or hostile to, players who had demonstrated against racism and police violence.
About 70 percent of active players on the league’s rosters are Black and league officials have been trying to show unity with those who have demonstrated against injustice, particularly after the murder of Mr. Floyd in May 2020.
“It’s an opportunity to highlight messages that are important to the league, players and personnel and our communities,” Brian McCarthy, the N.F.L. spokesman, said on Saturday. “We’ve seen tremendous work done by our players to make an impact, and we can increase that through the high-visibility platform that the N.F.L. provides.”
Critics of the N.F.L.’s decision say that the league has no reason to inject social justice issues into football games and that it risks alienating fans.
The league’s efforts have been shadowed by the specter of Colin Kaepernick, the onetime quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, who in 2016 began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans.
Source: NY Times