NFL players and coaches have been wearing helmet decals and badges this season to honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police brutality, and social justice heroes. In June 2020, then-Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette organized his own peaceful protest over the murder of George Floyd. He was joined by 12 of his teammates and 700 others who wanted to show their support for the movement.
For the NFC Championship game this Sunday, Fournette, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will once again be using his platform to speak out by participating in the NFL’s initiative, Say Their Stories. Fournette will have the name “Jordan Davis” written on the back of his helmet to bring awareness to Jordan's story.
In 2012, Davis, then a teenager, was sitting in the back seat of a friend’s car at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. A man pulled up next to them, complaining about the “loud music” they were playing. The man pulled out a gun and fired 10 shots into the car, hitting Jordan three times, and killing him the day after Thanksgiving. The man claimed that he felt threatened and believed Davis had a gun, but police never found a gun in Davis' possession or in his car.
Since Jordan’s death, his mother, Lucy McBath dedicated her life to preventing other families from experiencing the same pain that she did.
In February 2020, McBath shared a message for Jordan on what would have been his 25th birthday;
We never got to celebrate the big milestones in your life b/c you were taken from us too early. Since then, I've worked to honor you.
We're fighting every day, Jordan. We're making a change, together.
Fournette said he thinks about how this could have easily been him or a family member. He hopes that speaking out helps people realize that athletes care and are trying to use their platforms for good.
“I wear the name of Jordan Davis on my helmet because I want to shine a light on the life of a young man who was taken from us much too early for no justifiable reason," Fournette said. "I, or one of my family members, could have been Jordan. His tragic death should serve as a reminder to all of us that we have to find a way to respect each other and get along in this world.”
NFL fans have watched as players linked arms and lead the way on social justice issues this season.
This month, the NFL announced 13 new grants to nonprofit organizations across the country and additional funding to support closing the "digital divide" as part of its social justice initiative, Inspire Change. In total, the league and its clubs have provided more than $95 million in support of programs focused on education, economic advancement, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform.
“Jordan was just beginning his life’s journey and it was taken away in an instant over something as inconsequential as loud music. I have thought often about his parents and family and I hope this small gesture has helped them as they try to move forward after their personal loss.” Fournette said.