Saints players announce #SayHerName initiative

METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints‘ player leaders, including safety Malcolm Jenkins and quarterback Drew Brees, announced a season-long #SayHerName initiative Friday to address the plight of Black women in America.

Saints linebacker Demario Davis and left tackle Terron Armstead explained that the “player-led campaign” was conceived as a way to “be on the same page with a united issue” on which the players could use their platform this season.

They credited Saints owner Gayle Benson and the organization for being “100% supportive.”

“That’s what you need for change — you need everybody,” Davis said. “We want to be an example as an organization.”

Jenkins, Brees, Davis, Armstead, running back Alvin Kamara, defensive end Cameron Jordan, punter Thomas Morstead and linebacker Craig Robertson produced a video that was tweeted out by several players throughout the day with the #SayHerName hashtag — which specifically mentioned Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville police officers in March.

“We as Saints want to utilize our platform this season for meaningful change,” the players said in the video, taking turns reciting the lines. “Not to distract from issues. Not to stick to sports. But to work together as teammates for meaningful change. Our goal is to raise awareness around the current state of Black women in America.

“When it comes to the broader conversation of social justice, Black women are usually left out — as is evidenced in the case of Breonna Taylor. We are failing to acknowledge the intersecting impacts of racism and sexism of Black women.”

According to the team, players will have a roundtable discussion each week this season about issues related to Black women and their experiences. A video of that discussion will be shown pregame and showcase the story of a Black woman who died in a case of police brutality. And players will wear #SAYHERNAME T-shirts before games.

Brees drew backlash from several of his teammates in June for distracting from the Black Lives Matter movement when he said he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem. But Brees apologized multiple times in the ensuing days, saying he “completely missed the mark” and vowing to be an “ally” to people of color in the fight for social justice and racial equality.

Teammates have praised Brees for his sincere efforts since then — including a social media post that Brees directed toward President Donald Trump, insisting that, “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our Black communities.” Jenkins, who was Brees’ harshest critic at the time of his flag comment, said recently that, “If anything the team is probably closer for it, because we’ve had to have those tough conversations.”

Others in sports also have focused on the “Say Her Name” campaign. This season, the WNBA and its players have worn shirts with “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back.

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