The Washington Football Team canceled its scheduled practice at FedEx Field on Thursday in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, the team announced Wednesday night.
Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by police on Sunday. Blake was shot as he attempted to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was distributed on social media. The incident sparked more protests and caused more athletes to speak out or take action.
Three NBA playoff games were postponed, set in motion by the Milwaukee Bucks not taking the court against the Orlando Magic in protest over Blake’s killing. Three baseball games were also postponed, between the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, and the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Washington had been scheduled to practice at FedEx Field on Thursday afternoon. Coach Ron Rivera already was going to lead a discussion about the shooting with the team Thursday morning at their Ashburn, Virginia, facility, as well as possible plans for what the team might do during the season to show support for social justice. New team president Jason Wright also was going to be part of the discussion as well as Malcolm Blacken, the senior director of player development. They were then going to board buses to drive an hour to their stadium for the practice.
But after Rivera spoke with Wright, a former player and the first African American team president in the NFL, they agreed having the players practice after an emotionally draining meeting would be counterproductive. Owner Dan Snyder agreed.
In a statement, Rivera said, “Jason Wright and I worked to develop a response that has the right balance between the business of football and being truly thoughtful about the social injustice we witnessed with this latest incident in Wisconsin.”
Washington will resume practice Friday and probably will make up the missed workout at FedEx on a later date.
In the statement, Rivera said they will “continue our open dialogue on the issues of racism and social injustice in our country. Mr. Snyder and Jason will join us in our discussion with the team, just as Mr. Snyder and I will support Jason in similar discussions we are planning for members of the business and stadium side of the organization. We are all in this together. And as a team we will work to figure out ways that we can make a positive impact in our communities.”