In a video released on Twitter Thursday evening, several prominent NFL players demanded a revised statement from the league on the issue of systemic racism, which has been brought to the spotlight after the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The 71-second video, which features Patrick Mahomes, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Tyrann Mathieu and Deshaun Watson, among others, shows players reading from the same script:
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.’”
Floyd's death, along with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery earlier this year, has sparked worldwide protests against racism and police brutality toward Black people. The protests have also given the football world a chance to re-examine its views on Colin Kaepernick and his decision to kneel during the national anthem four years ago.
On Wednesday, Saints quarterback Drew Brees said in an interview with Yahoo Finance that he will "never agree with anybody disrespecting" the United States flag. His remarks drew sharp criticism from the sports world, particularly from other NFL players. Brees apologized for his words on Thursday.
"In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country," Brees said in an Instagram post. "They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character."