NFL Will Play Black National Anthem Week 1, Could Allow Helmet Decals Honoring Victims of Police Brutality (UPDATE)

Insiders tell 'ESPN' this is one of the several moves league officials are considering to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

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UPDATED 7/21, 11:10 a.m. ET: FrontOffice Sports reports that NFL players will "likely" be allowed to wear helmet decals featuring the "names or initials of police violence and systemic racism."

Some of the names that are expected to be included are George Floyd, Breonna Taylor. Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice.

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The NFL’s 1,700-plus players will likely be invited to wear helmet decals bearing the names or initials of police violence victims and systemic racism, sources told Front Office Sports. 

The NFL is reportedly taking additional steps to express solidarity with the Black community. 

A source recently told The Undefeated that the league has plans to play "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing"—a song commonly known as the Black national anthem—before every 2020 Week 1 game; the first of which will go down Sept. 10 with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. The insider said the song will be played or performed live prior to the "The Star-Spangled Banner."

James Weldon Johnson wrote "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" as a poem in the late 19th century. The work was later set to music by Johnson's brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, and first publicly performed during a 1900 celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Nearly two decades later, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People selected the song as the official "Negro National Anthem."

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The NFL is also reportedly in talks to memorialize victims of police brutality and systemic racism by listing their names on helmet decals or patches placed on jerseys. There's also talks about the NFL possibly produce an educational program about these victims and their families. The insider said the efforts aim to show the league's "genuine commitment to the public, players and coaches and that player voices continue to be heard."

Amid the nationwide protests against racial injustice, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a video statement expressing the league's support for the Black Lives Matter movement as well as any player who chose to peacefully protest.

"We, at the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter," Goodell said in the video. "... Without black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of black players, coaches, fans, and staff. We are listening, I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family."

The NFL has also formally recognized Juneteenth as an official holiday, and has pledged to donate $250 million to help fight systemic racism over the next 10 years.

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