CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Bears — the NFL team located closest to Kenosha, Wisconsin — canceled practice on Thursday, as part of a growing protest in professional sports leagues in response to police shooting 29-year-old Jacob Blake in the back on Sunday.
“In the wake of what has taken place in our backyard of Kenosha over the last couple of days, we as a team have a lot on our mind today. We decided to pause our football activities to voice to each other, our coaches and our staff where we stand on the real issues around race and police brutality in our country,” the team said in a post on Twitter.”
Statement from Chicago Bears players: pic.twitter.com/pEL2ywtMD1
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 27, 2020
We had a productive discussion, but we all agreed talks and discussions are simply not enough anymore and we need action. We are putting in plans to take action in our communities and together we believe we can make a real difference. We need action not only today, but in the days to come.”
The Bears aren’t the only team to cancel practice over the situation in Kenosha. The Detroit Lions canceled practice on Tuesday, and the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and Washington Football Team also canceled practice on Thursday.
The NBA postponed all of its playoff games on Thursday and Friday after the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott Game 5 of their series against the Orlando Magic. The WNBA also postponed all of its games on Wednesday and Thursday, and a handful of Major League Baseball were postponed on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward sat out the game against the Detroit Tigers, although he urged the rest of the team to go ahead with the game.
“I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen the next day. But tonight, I needed to be a part of what’s going on in our community, and I have support from them – teammates, coaching staff, everyone – you know, I encouraged them to go out and play the game tonight. I didn’t want anyone to sit here and say, ‘No, we don’t need to play the game.’ I could only tell them what I was going to do, and lead that way,” he said.
Heyward said some of his teammates had said they would also sit out the game, but he encouraged them to play.
“There was discussion. There were multiple guys saying they weren’t comfortable going out there and playing if I wasn’t going to go out there. They didn’t want to leave me hanging. And I let them know – encouraged them – go play the game,” he said. “I don’t think the game should be canceled. But I have to do what I have to do.”
Earlier this week, the Bears said they were “deeply disturbed by yet another instance of a police officer using excessive force against a Black person, this time on Sunday evening in Kenosha, a community just up the road from Halas Hall.”
“Jacob Blake is the latest name added to a list that tragically continues to grow. We will continue to use our voice and resources to be a proponent of change and we support the efforts of all those who are peacefully fighting for equality and the end of systemic racism in our communities. Our thoughts are with Jacob and his family and we pray for his recovery,” the Bears added in Tuesday’s statement.
After practice on Tuesday, Bears head coach Matt Nagy offered the team’s thoughts and prayers to Blake and his family.
“It’s very disturbing, and it has to stop,” Nagy said at the time.