The Minnesota Vikings have big plans to bring awareness to social justice issues during Sunday's home opening game against the Green Bay Packers. The team is also planning to stream the pre-game activities live on Vikings.com.
In a statement released Friday, the team says, "The Vikings will continue to use the team’s platform to bring awareness to critical issues of racism and injustice."
The Vikings will wear Pregame Warmup Shirts with “Be the Change” verbiage on the front and the names of 200 individuals who have been killed by acts of racism or police brutality on the back. Players may also wear NFL Player's Association and player-created warmup t-shirts with the phrase “An injustice to one is an injustice to all of US.”
The Vikings and Packers will come together in their respective end zones, which will be marked with the messages “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism.” which is a league-wide message across all NFL teams for the home openers.
Also, players have the option to wear their personal choice of helmet decals with social justice related messages or the name of a victim of systemic racism, and can choose to keep them on their helmets for the entire season.
The National Anthem will be performed by Grammy-Award winning and local group Sounds of Blackness, which will be pre-recorded.
The team is also planning to recognize the family of George Floyd, who will be inside U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday.
Already, there is controversy surrounding the NFL and players recognizing these issues before and during games. The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs opened the NFL season Thursday night, and the Texans remained in their locker room during the anthem. When they came out of their tunnel following the anthem, fans booed them.
The booing continued as the two teams walked to midfield and shook hands, interlocking their arms at the 50 yard line during what was supposed to be a moment of silence.
According to CBS News, Texans and former Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt said, "The moment of unity I personally thought was good. The booing was unfortunate in that moment. "I don't fully understand that. There was no flag involved, there was nothing involved with that besides two teams coming together to show unity." Kansas City ended up winning the game 34-20.
News Talk 830 WCCO host Henry Lake, who also worked for a sports station in Kansas City before coming back to Minneapolis, took to Twitter to express his disappointment. "The fact that fans booed this gesture of unity is mind boggling," Lake said. "But after all we’ve been through in 2020 you’d hope folks are figuring it out. And honestly those fans have figured it out. They don’t care. They said tonight to NFL players, including their own, I don’t care about you away from the football field."
Viking running back Alexander Mattison also tweeted out disappointment with the moment.
Mattison said in a series of tweets Thursday night, "It’s sickening to see people boo’ing the moment of silence before the game! Would you boo a moment of silence for 9/11? And then people have the audacity to say 'this is our escape from the problems in the world, let us just enjoy the game'. For a lot of us, as soon as we step off that field we are BLACK men in a world that sees us as a threat. There is no escape for us... and it’s been that way since our grandparents and great grandparents were fighting front lines for this country and came home, not as a hero, but a BLACK man. Returning home to get spit on, beat in the streets, and discriminated against. If we can’t escape, why should we put aside our feelings just to make fans feel comfortable in their 'escape'? Why is it that fans can’t take one MOMENT of silence, but we have to live day to day in silence and in fear. They’ve been silencing us for so long...not anymore. Black, white, or indifferent we stand together. This is our platform as influencers to peacefully bring awareness and promote change in this world. If you really can’t enjoy the game because of a moment of silence, then maybe you should be reading a book on the history of this country instead, so you understand why we stand together through this. Maybe you’ll understand or maybe you won’t but #EnoughisEnough #StopKillingUs."
Kansas City allowed a limited number of fans to attend the game, with around 17,000 people spread out through Arrowhead Stadium. The Vikings won't have fans in U.S. Bank Stadium for Sunday's game against the Packers.