PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals announced Thursday that all team activities are canceled for the day.
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the decision had been made by the organization to cancel all football activities Thursday and a team meeting was held Thursday morning.
“There’s times when football takes a back burner and we felt like this was one of those moments as an organization,” Kingsbury said. “We wanted our players to know that as an organization, we support them, wanted them to have a day to be with their families, reflect on things, be around friends, be around each other."
The decision comes a day after several boycotts and postponements took place across several sports leagues to protest the recent shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin.
The movement from professional sports teams began Tuesday when the Detroit Lions decided to sit out practice and instead, as a team, address the media about the shooting of Jacob Blake and racial injustice in America.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks did not go on to the floor for warmups prior to their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Milwaukee is less than 40 miles from Kenosha, where police shot Blake.
The Bucks boycotted the game and then the players from all teams decided to not play their Wednesday playoff games. The NBA postponed the games and said they would be rescheduled. After player and Board of Governors meetings, the playoffs are expected to resume Friday.
MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers were set to play a home game against the Cincinnati Reds later in the day and they decided not the play, along with the Mariners/Padres and Dodgers/Giants.
WNBA players decided not to play their games Wednesday as well, including the Phoenix Mercury, and the WNBA postponed all games that day. Major League Soccer also postponed five matches Wednesday night.
Kingsbury said the Cardinals wanted the players to be able to use the day to help make the change they want to see, whether using their social media platforms or registering to vote, or helping others register to vote.
"We just wanted them to know it’s their day and I felt it was important to our organization."
Kingsbury added that team owner Michael Bidwill felt strongly the same way.
Kingsbury said the team meeting Thursday morning was somber. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph spoke to players. Kingsbury said he wanted to keep what was said private.
“What happened to Jacob Blake was horrendous," Kingsbury said. "It has to stop. I know it kind of sounds hollow at times because you hear the same things over and over, but we wanted to make sure that our players knew that we support them and we’re here for them in any way that we can be.”
“I think as players and coaches, we have a tremendous platform and we can help spotlight that as a country, we have issues when it comes to social injustice and racism. We have a problem here.”
Kingsbury mentioned the video of Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers speaking on issues of racial injustice after their Tuesday win, and Kingsbury said it was powerful and inspired him.
Kingsbury said he had an important and moving conversation with his father over the summer on the topic of kneeling during the anthem and social injustice in America. Kingsbury’s father, also a former football coach, served in the Marines and received a Purple Heart.
“Talking to him, two words really stood out: respect and the second thing was understanding,” Kingsbury said. “I think respect the viewpoints that people have on this topic are very personal and passionate and respect their right to express themselves. You’ve got to understand at its core, what this is really about is it’s always been about drawing attention to the social injustice that continues to take place.”
“It’s about increasing awareness that racism exists. Police brutality against people of color continues to happen and let’s not confuse it with something else or make the narrative different. My biggest takeaway from talking with my dad was kneeling doesn’t reflect a lack of patriotism or respect for the military in any way. Just like standing for the anthem doesn’t mean you’re OK with racism or social injustice. It’s important to respect and understand that.”
Kingsbury said he continues to be inspired by a great group of players and coaches and he says these conversations surrounding social injustice in America will continue within the organization throughout the year.
A number of other NFL teams canceled team activities Thursday as well.
Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake took to Twitter to offer his thoughts on the cancellation of team activities.
"We have the day off today to educate and reflect on who we are as individuals and where we need to progress as people," he wrote. "Honored to be in an organization of men and women who lead the charge for change in this country."