FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team and Green Bay Packers all canceled practices in an apparent response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin.
The Jets were scheduled to start warmups at 9:20 a.m. EDT on Thursday, but the field remained empty. The team provided no immediate details on their decision to not practice.
Blake, 29, was shot by police officers, apparently in the back, on Sunday as he leaned into his SUV, three of his children seated inside. The shooting was captured on cellphone video and ignited new protests in the U.S. three months after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer touched off a nationwide reckoning over racial injustice.
The Detroit Lions canceled their practice Tuesday, protesting the incident involving Blake, and racial injustice.
The Colts posted a statement on Twitter, saying they would not hold their scheduled practice session.
“Instead, the team will use the day to discuss and work toward making a lasting social impact and inspiring change in our communities,” the statement said.
On Wednesday night, the Washington Football Team announced it would not hold its practice at its home stadium on Thursday afternoon. It was supposed to be broadcast live on local radio and televised at night.
“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,” coach Ron Rivera said in the statement.
Washington, which recently dropped its longtime name of Redskins, last week hired Jason Wright as the first Black team president in NFL history.
The Packers also announced Thursday they would not hold their scheduled practice.
The Atlanta Falcons were among teams still practicing. Coach Dan Quinn said he would talk with players later Thursday, including the team’s social justice committee.
“We’ve always acted collectively as a group and as a team,” Quinn said. He said he will support players “whether it’s action items or a chance to vent as a team.”
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said players and coaches met for over two hours Thursday morning before deciding to practice as scheduled.
Jets coach Adam Gase and a few players said Wednesday they spoke about the shooting of Blake and racial injustice on Tuesday night. The virtual meeting included team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder and safety Bradley McDougald said the Jets were still discussing how they would handle the situation as a team.
“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.”
The protests weren’t limited to the NFL. The Milwaukee Bucks opted not to play in their playoff game Wednesday, and two other games were postponed later in the day.
Three Major League Baseball games were also postponed. 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 were called off hours before they were set to begin.
Players and teams from the WNBA, MLS and tennis also sat out their competitions Wednesday night.
AP Pro Football Writer Mark Long and Sports Writers Steve Megargee, Charles Odom and Stephen Whyno contributed.