Training Camps and Social Injustice
Vikings safety, Kenny Vaccaro, will not be talking to the media about football this season. Photo by Steven Ryan.

Many sports teams across the U.S. decided to boycott their games this week after the shooting of Jacob Blake. Although the National Football League (NFL) hasn’t kicked off their season, some teams didn’t practice on Thursday. But teams went back to Friday training camps and discussed social injustice.

Many teams like the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings held team huddles to have conversations about current events. This led to Tennessee Titans’ safety, Kenny Vaccaro, and Green Bay Packers tackle, Billy Turner, to speak out.

Vaccaro has pledged not to talk to the media this season about football. He feels like the only appropriate things to talk about are social injustice, racism, systemic oppression and police brutality.

“For me and my platform, my duty is to speak on things that are happening, and that’s just my stance. I’m just not going to talk football this year,” said Vaccaro.

“I don’t think sitting out a practice is going to stop police from killing Black men. The next step is getting into communities.”

Turner felt this same way. He wants there to be a real change that happens within communities. Stopping games won’t be enough. Turner has been talking about social injustice during the offseason and brought this conversation to camp. The Packers spoke about multiple options to continue promoting change.

“The system that is so brutally and utterly ruining everything that is freedom in this country is what needs to change,” Turner said.

After practice on Thursday, the Vikings met in the endzone to have a two-hour conversation about finding real solutions against social injustice. Running back, Ameer Abdullah, spoke passionately about the prosecution of ex-Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin. He is on trial for the killing of George Floyd after kneeling on his neck for almost eight minutes.

“Right now, we’re going to put the pressure on the bureaucratic system to implement a proper [prosecution] of Derek Chauvin,” Abdullah said.

“I’ll repeat his name again — Derek Chauvin. I’m not going to just say ‘the officer.’ His name is Derek Chauvin, along with the other officers who murdered George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis. I speak for my entire team right now. I appreciate them allowing me to come up and be the voice. But just know, I’m just one man but the army behind me is stronger when we’re together.”

Teams will continue to speak out against social injustice while heading into their season.