Numerous NFL teams have canceled team activities Thursday in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., and the Arizona Cardinals have followed suit, announcing the decision Thursday morning. The team was scheduled to have a walk-through and then meetings.
The news comes a day after history was made in the NBA, as the Milwaukee Bucks strike of the fifth game of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic led to the NBA postponing all playoff games Wednesday and, reportedly, Thursday as well.
"We have the day off today to educate and reflect on who we are as individuals and where we need to progress as people," running back Kenyan Drake tweeted. "Honored to be in an organization of men and women who lead the charge for change in this country."
Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, Kingsbury and the Cardinals also gave players the day off.
Speaking to reporters, Kingsbury said, “There’s times when football takes a back burner. We felt like this was one of those moments as an organization. We wanted our players to know that we support them, want them to have a day to be with their families, reflect on things, be around friends, be around each other and then use the day to help make that change they want to see. Whether it’s on social media using the platform they have or if it’s going to register to vote or trying to get other people set up to register to vote. We just wanted to let them know this is their day. I felt like it was important to our organization. I know (owner) Michael (Bidwill) felt strongly the same way.”
Kingsbury did say that Friday's "Red and White Practice" will take place.
Players knew of the organization’s decision when a team meeting was held Thursday morning, and Kingsbury said, “The mood was somber. We had VJ (defensive coordinator Vance Joseph) actually speak and he did a tremendous job talking with those guys. We have a tremendous locker room. I’ll keep what was said private, but we felt it was important to have that time together.”
Asked how the idea of cancellation originated, Kingsbury said, “As an organization we discussed with Michael and (general manager) Steve (Keim) and VJ a lot of people just what the right thing to do was for us and this was the decision we came to. What happened to Jason Blake was horrendous and it has to stop. I know it sounds hollow at times because you hear the same things over and over, but we wanted to make our players know that we support them; we’re here for them in any way we can be.”
Meanwhile, Thursday morning on ESPN Radio, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, spoke with intense emotion about the subject.
“This s--- is — it’s gotta end,” Vincent said. “I’m so proud of these young boys. These young men and women. They did things I didn’t think about doing. I always walked for the community but during my time we thought we had a handle on it and obviously we didn’t.”
Then, Vincent got very personal when he added, “When I saw (Los Angeles Clippers head coach) Doc Rivers and (Los Angeles Lakers forward) LeBron [James] and (Bucks guard) George Hill, I think about my three boys and I’m sitting up here every day thinking about contact tracing and how we’re going to play ball, and I've got a 22-year-old and 20-year-old and a 15-year-old that I’m trying to prevent from being hunted. And they’re teachable moments and I’m trusting my Lord, trusting Him. I’m just proud of what the guys and the women are doing. As we would say, a unified people would always defeat unified money. And I’m just proud. I’m proud.”