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NFL players send video telling league 'We will not be silenced'

A group of NFL players released a powerful video this week calling on the sports league to support black players, call out racism and admit "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting" amid the death of George Floyd.

"It's been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered. How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players? What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality? What if I was George Floyd?" the group of players said together in a video released Thursday.

Football stars taking part included the Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes, as well as Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Tyrann Mathieu, Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley. 

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, who criticized his teammate Drew Brees this week after the star quarterback criticized those kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial justice, was also in the video.

"I am George Floyd. I am Breonna Taylor. I am Ahmaud Arbery. I am Eric Garner. I am Laquan McDonald. I am Tamir Rice. I am Trayvon Martin. I am Walter Scott. I am Michael Brown Jr. I am Samuel Dubose. I am Frank Smart. I am Phillip White. I am Jordan Baker," the group said.

"We will not be silenced. We assert our right to peacefully protest. It shouldn't take this long to admit. So, on behalf of the National Football League, this is what we, the players, would like to hear you state: We, the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League believe black lives matter."

The video comes as protests have broken out across the country over the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after a former Minneapolis officer was seen in bystander video kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. 

The Brees comments underscored the controversy in the league surrounding former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sued the NFL after no team would hire him following protests in which he knelt during the national anthem.

Kaepernick has since become both a leader and a symbol of the movement for racial justice in the country.

The NFL also saw controversy this week when Vic Fangio, the head coach of the Denver Broncos, said that he does not "see racism at all in the NFL. I don't see discrimination in the NFL."

Fangio apologized Wednesday for his comments, saying, "While I have never personally experienced those terrible things first-hand during my 33 years in the NFL, I understand many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives."  

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