NFL Teams Cancel Practice to Protest Shooting of Jacob Blake

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) looks to throw against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium, December 31, 2017. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

Four NFL teams have reportedly canceled practices in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, one day after the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks also refused to play a playoff game in protest. 

The New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team and Green Bay Packers have all canceled practices in protest, the Associated Press reported, after police in Kenosha, Wis. shot Blake, a black man, several times from behind at close range as he tried to enter his van where his three children were waiting on Sunday. 

Police had been responding to a call that Blake, who had a warrant out for his arrest, had taken a woman’s keys and refused to return them. When the police arrived, Blake admitted to having a knife in his possession, according to Wisconsin’s Department of Justice. Police instructed Blake to “drop the knife” as he is seen on video holding something in his hand, though it is unclear what. Division of Criminal Investigation agents later recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard in Blake’s van.

In a statement on Twitter, the Colts said they would not hold practice and would instead “use the day to discuss and work toward making a lasting social impact and inspiring change in our communities.”

The Washington Football Team canceled a practice it had scheduled for Thursday afternoon that was set to be broadcast live on local radio and televised at night, saying, “In place of our practice at FedEx Field, the players, coaches and football staff will meet as a football family and we’ll continue our open dialogue on the issues of racism and social injustice in out country.”

The Packers also announced Thursday that they would not hold their scheduled practice. 

While the Jets did not provide any immediate details on their decision not to practice, the team’s field remained empty during scheduled warmups Thursday morning. On Wednesday Coach Adam Gase said the team spoke about Blake and racial injustice in a virtual meeting on Tuesday night that included team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson.

The Jets were still discussing how they would handle the situation as a team, Wide receiver Jamison Crowder and safety Bradley McDougald said Wednesday. 

“This is definitely something that I don’t want — and a lot of my brothers in the locker room don’t want — we don’t want it swept under the rug,” McDougald said. “This is not just a one-day topic or when it happens, we need to talk about it. This is something real in our community that we’re dealing with.”

“And I’m going to deal with it for the rest of my life, and my kids are going to deal with it,” he added. 

Earlier this week the Detroit Lions canceled their practice in protest of the incident and racial injustice. 

Other teams were still practicing, including the Atlanta Falcons, whose coach said he would consult players and the team’s social justice committee about potential action later on Thursday. The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to practice as scheduled after a two-hour meeting between players and coaches Thursday morning, coach Doug Marrone said.  

After the Milwaukee Bucks chose not to play on Wednesday, two other NBA games were postponed, as were three Major League Baseball games between the Cincinnati Reds and Brewers in Milwaukee, Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco.

Players and teams from the WNBA, MLS and tennis also chose to strike Wednesday night.

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