Report: NFL to Allow Helmet Decals Honoring Victims of Systemic Racism

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2020

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2017, file photo, Philadelphia Eagles' Chris Long (56), Malcolm Jenkins (27) and Rodney McLeod (23) gesture during the National Anthem before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, in Philadelphia. Baltimore’s Ben Watson and Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins have strong views toward anthem protests and those who oppose them, based on their religious beliefs. But even pastors can’t agree on the controversial topic that has enveloped the NFL this season. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

The NFL will reportedly allow players to have decals on their helmets this season, featuring names or initials of victims of police violence and systemic racism, according to Jason Reid of The Undefeated.

The league and players association are putting together a list of names, while players are encouraged to provide suggestions.

This comes after the WNBA allowed players to replace their own names on their jerseys with the names of Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland and others. The NBA has allowed players to put social justice messages on the backs of jerseys but not the names of anyone who has died.

The NFL decals represent a small step in the league's recent push for social justice.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was ostracized after kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest systemic racism and police brutality, and the league eventually created a new anthem policy in 2018 that required players to stand when on the field.

The tone has changed this offseason, with commissioner Roger Goodell posting a video encouraging protests and admitting the league's past mistakes:


We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange https://t.co/ENWQP8A0sv

The league will also play "Lift Every Voice And Sing," a song traditionally known as the Black national anthem, before every Week 1 game.

There have been few opportunities for players to use their individual platform during games, with the recent exception of "My Cause My Cleats," which allows players to represent one charitable organization during one game each season.