Note: This story was originally published by Justin Graver at 11:19 a.m. CT and has since been updated by Mike Herndon.
If you somehow missed it, on Wednesday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks did not come out of the locker room for the start of their Game 5 playoff matchup with the Orlando Magic, electing to boycott the game as a show of protest following Sunday’s shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin (about 45 minutes south of Milwaukee).
Wednesday’s remaining NBA games—followed shortly by WNBA, MLB, and MLS games—were all boycotted by the players in a show of solidarity.
This morning, seven NFL teams (so far) have elected to cancel practice, among them the Tennessee Titans. The Indianapolis Colts were the first team to announce via the team’s social media accounts.
The New York Jets, the Washington Football Team, the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears, and Arizona Cardinals have also all canceled Thursday’s practices. The Jacksonville Jaguars will practice today after a two-hour meeting to discuss actionable change, per Ian Rapoport.
The decision for the Titans to cancel practice was apparently made by the players. Dianna Russini had an early tweet before the decision was made.
And another once the team met together to make this decision.
We’ll have more info about the Titans plans shortly.
[UPDATE 2:18 PM]:
Instead of practicing, the Titans spent their morning discussing the topic of social justice and came away with an action plan that consisted of three primary objectives:
- Getting every player on the roster registered to vote and to the polls on election day.
- Setting up meetings with local elected officials to learn more about what they can do to help these issues get addressed.
- Create Zoom meetings that will allow players to reach out to local youth to help educate them on these issues.
The players, led by Kevin Byard and Ryan Tannehill, also issued a statement on their feelings about the continuing incidents of police violence against minorities. Byard emphasized that they are sick and tired of seeing their brothers and sisters murdered, a sentiment that Tannehill echoed moments later in a powerful scene featuring the entire team standing behind them.
You can watch the entire statement via the team’s Twitter account below:
After the players’ statement, head coach Mike Vrabel took questions from the media and added that he is very proud of his players for taking a stand and that he felt the day was better spent focusing on things beyond football, though the team did go to their regular meetings at the facility later in the afternoon. Asked whether the team would return to the practice field tomorrow, Vrabel said he was optimistic that they would, but that he would see how the team felt in the morning.
The Titans head coach also emphasized that he takes great pride in players feeling free and safe to express their feelings and grow as people when they’re in the building, in addition to improving as players on the field.
That last point isn’t just lip service either. Several Titans players have spoken over the last two years about feeling comfortable talking to Vrabel about all kinds of things ranging from their personal life to football. Earning his team’s trust is something that seems to come naturally to the former Pro Bowl linebacker and it will serve him well as he continues to guide this group of men through what will certainly be one of the strangest NFL seasons in league history.