Sports | September 7, 2021 10:38 am

The NFL Will Allow Players to Place Social Justice Messages on Helmets

The NFL has almost completely reversed its stance on supporting protests against racism and police violence

The message "End Racism" on an NFL helmet
The message "End Racism" on the helmet worn by Joe Haden of the Steelers.
Joe Sargent/Getty

Though the league’s motivations for doing so may be somewhat suspect, the NFL will continue to support its players protesting against racism and police violence by once again allowing social justice messages to be displayed on helmets during the upcoming season.

The NFL, which allowed some messages as well as the names of Black people who had been wrongfully killed like George Floyd and Trayvon Martin to be displayed on helmets last season, will allow players to choose from the following six messages this year: “End Racism,” “Stop Hate,” “It Takes All of Us,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Inspire Change” and “Say Their Stories.”

In addition to the helmet decals, the NFL will have the messages “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” stenciled in end zones across the league for the second straight year as part of the league’s Inspire Change platform. The league is also working with New Era and the Players Coalition to offer an Inspire Change knit hat that will be sold at retail with 100% of the league’s proceeds going to Inspire Change grant recipients. During Weeks 17 and 18 of the season, teams will highlight their social justice work during home games.

“We are committed to Inspire Change and the social justice work that inspires change for the long-term,” NFL senior VP of social responsibility Anna Isaacson told The Associated Press. “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. The key message for us as the season is starting, we are ramping up again in a big way with our social justice work.”

Despite all of these initiatives, the NFL still “strongly” encourages its players to stand for the national anthem, but does not plan to take action against those who choose instead to kneel, raise a fist or remain in the locker room while the song is played, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The New York Times. “We’ve never fined one player [for kneeling],” he said. “No player has ever been disciplined.”

The NFL season kicks off on Thursday night when the Cowboys face the defending champion Buccaneers.