The Chargers were scheduled to have practice at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood for the first time. Head coach Anthony Lynn came into the locker room and opened it up to the players to see what their thoughts were about the events that have transpired in the last week.
"We decided to have a team meeting in the locker room," Lynn said. "First time we've been together that close, and guys wanted to do it. And after that team meeting, I just felt like this wasn't the time to practice."
The reason they decided to cancel practice was in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man who was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha Police Officers.
Some players went to the field and stood in solidarity with their head coach as he talked to NFL Network and announced that the players would not be practicing today. Lynn decided to cancel practice because he felt that it would do better spiritually if they didn't practice. There was no team vote.
"The conversation we had in the locker room was a very good conversation," said the head coach. "Guys, players, and coaches were able to get a lot off of their chest. Some of it was uncomfortable for a lot of people, but I think, and I said this earlier, it was necessary because there was a bunch of mixed emotions as we were prepared to take the field today for our scrimmage."
Lynn said when he was driving to the scrimmage today, he felt like the team needed to have a conversation about what was going on in the world today and how they felt.
"To get that conversation out with everyone and see everyone's takes was healthy. It affects some more than others," said quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
The players who spoke on NFL Network and the media via Zoom all had the same message that they were tired of seeing unarmed black people being shot by law enforcement. They want change.
"We got a lot more done in the locker room than we would have on the field," Lynn explained. "As the head coach I have to have a feel for the team, and my instincts told me not to take the field."
When walking into SoFi Stadium, there is a goliath like a 360-degree video board, called the oculus, displayed with a quote that read, "I'm not sad. I don't want your pity. I want change," those words were said by Letera Widman, Blake's sister. Also, some sideboards read all the names of the victims murdered in officer-involved shootings.
"No person, regardless of race, deserves brutality from law enforcement," said Taylor.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic decided to boycott their NBA playoff game in the wake of Blake's shooting. A couple of minutes later, the snowball effect. The rest of the Wednesday and Thursday NBA playoffs were boycotted, the WNBA followed, and some MLB games didn't take place.
The NFL followed today with nine teams canceling practices the Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, and the Washington Football Team.
"I think you look at NBA and MLB taking a stance yesterday," explained Taylor. "Yes, this a sports culture you know we are all brothers, and you want to stand and support your brothers, but you are standing for a cause. That was the statement they made yesterday. Yes, we are not playing a game today, but it is still fresh in our minds, and these issues at hand are real. People who watched that video if it didn't bother you, then you should check yourself and check your morals and your spiritual grounding. That wasn't a pleasing video by any means, and like I said, we are just tired of having this conversation."
The Chargers have been at the front of the line of starting the conversation since the murder of George Floyd in May. Lynn has been saying for some time now that this starts at the top and that owner Dean Spanos has been with them since the beginning. Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell said that he had a conversation with Spanos about what is going on in the world. He said he was thankful to have a team owner that listened to him.
This was the first visit for a lot of the players on the team. What they did was take a stand for something they believe in and showed team unity.
"This is the first time I've ever been to this stadium," said defensive end Isaac Rochell. "And for the rest of my life, I'll think back to the first time I came here: We were discussing social injustices in our country."
Unless the Chargers decide to do a practice next week in Inglewood, this will be their only visit to SoFi Stadium until their week two matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. The season is close, and Lynn says they are competing for two things this upcoming season.
"This football team is committed to fighting for a championship and social justice," said Lynn on NFL Network.