The NFL announced Tuesday that it plans to allow players to wear helmet decals honoring victims of police brutality.
The NFL announced plans Tuesday to let players honor victims of police brutality on helmet decals in 2020, per ESPN’s Jason Reid (via Bleacher Report), a step similar to the NBA’s decision to allow players to promote social justice causes on their jerseys.
The decision appears to be a positive step for the NFL, but the league’s spotty track record in handling player protests and possible collusion against Colin Kaepernick still loom large as Roger Goodell and the league brass look to improve the NFL’s social image.
The NFL decals measure was met with mixed reactions.
Many Twitter users pointed out the hypocrisy of the NFL creating controversy regarding players kneeling during the national anthem but then passing such a measure. However, the adoption of the helmet decals is certainly a positive step.
The Kaepernick situation remains the elephant in the room though. As the face of the league’s protest movement, the former San Francisco quarterback’s extended absence from the league remains troubling to those calling for the Goodell and others to recognize social justice movements.
As ESPN Magazine’s Keith Reed pointed out on Twitter, many of these gestures will appear empty until Kaepernick is signed.
However, for the friends and families of the victims that teams will honor, seeing NFL players recognize their loved ones will hopefully bring more awareness to the cases, like Breonna Taylor’s and George Floyd’s, where justice has not yet been served.
Many players have been vocal about protesting police brutality and creating progress within the United States, and recognizing the victims of such racially-charged crimes and promoting tolerance will be a major theme across sports leagues.
However, the league failed to go as far as the NBA in giving a voice to players interested in speaking out on social issues, and the league’s track record suggests that further action may be unlikely.