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NFL brings back Black Lives Matter, social justice messages to helmets, end zones

Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 3rd, 2021 (All-Pro Reels Photography/Flickr)
September 03, 2021

NFL revealed this week that players will once again be allowed to wear Black Lives Matter and other social justice messaging on their helmets for the 2021-2022 season. “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” will also be written in the end zones for the second year in a row as part of the league’s “Inspire Change” effort.

The NFL is also reintroducing the “Say Their Stories” program, which will include a new series in which each team will highlight its social justice work during a home game in Weeks 17 and 18.

“We are committed to Inspire Change and the social justice work that inspires change for the long-term,” Anna Isaacson, NFL senior vice president of social responsibility, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Players can choose from six messages to feature on their helmets, including “End Racism,” “Stop Hate,” “It Takes All of Us,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Inspire Change” and “Say Their Stories.”

All home games will feature the end zone messaging, except in cases when another cause is being highlighted. For instance, when a team hosts a Salute to the Service game, “End Racism” will be replaced with “Salute To Service.”

Those featured in the “Say Their stories” tributes will be voiced by NFL players and will include social justice heroes who have been chosen by the players for their impact on local communities.

All clubs will be given banners, goal post wraps, stencils, helmet decals and video board graphics during the final two weeks of the regular season.

“That will provide a unified time frame for us to further amplify all of the work that our clubs are doing and that will lead into the playoffs where Inspire Change will continue to take center stage,” Isaacson said. “The key message for us as the season is starting, we are ramping up again in a big way with our social justice work.”

The NFL also partnered with New Era and the Players Coalition to provide players, coaches, and other personnel with a knit hat featuring the message “Inspire Change.” The hat will be available for fans, as well, with 100 percent of the proceeds set to be donated to Inspire Change grant recipients.

Elsewhere in professional sports, a Texas law went into effect this week requiring all teams to play the National Anthem before home games. If a team refuses to comply with the requirement, they could be forced to repay any government funds received from the state, which could amount to millions of dollars.