The Green Bay Packers and several other NFL teams decided to cancel their training camp practices on Thursday in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in the Packers’ home state of Wisconsin.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, however, made it clear to reporters later in the day that the decision to shut down practice was not a players’ boycott.
“Not one guy said that they didn’t want to practice today, that didn’t even come up,” LaFleur said during a Zoom call on Thursday. “It was more or less we were having some really long conversations. When you feel that emotion in the room, it’s hard to focus on football. It is emotionally draining for everybody in that room, so I made the decision that, ‘Hey, we’re not going to go today.’ I just didn’t think it was right. We’ll see where we’re at tomorrow when we reconvene.”
The Milwaukee Bucks did not emerge from their locker room Wednesday night for their Game 5 playoff game against the Orlando Magic, setting off a chain of boycotts following Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Brewers followed them in the early evening with several other MLB teams — along with the WNBA as a league — organizing their own boycotts.
The Packers had a scheduled off-day on Wednesday but took their own time for thought and discussion Thursday when they canceled their 10:30 a.m. CT practice. Other NFL teams who canceled their Thursday practice include the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and Washington Football Team.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur and his players’ leadership council had already met to discuss Blake’s shooting after Monday’s practice and emerged from their meeting with new ideas to consider about how they could consider using their platform to help bring about change.
“Right now, we’ve got a lot of guys in our locker room that are upset about a lot of different things that they see in the world and that they’ve experienced,” LaFleur said. “I’ve said it before, I don’t know what our players have gone through. I’m a white guy that hasn’t been put in certain situations, but I continue to try to listen and I’m going to do whatever I can in my power to help support equal rights.”
The Packers are scheduled to open the 2020 NFL season at the Minnesota Vikings two weeks from Sunday on Sept. 13. They have just nine days until the 53-man roster cutdown deadline.
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Veteran TE Helped Drive Conversation with Packers Leaders
The Packers have not provided many details about what was discussed during Monday’s leadership council meeting, choosing to respect the personal nature of their conversations, but starting quarterback and attendee Aaron Rodgers did share it was veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis who helped drive the discussion.
“The only thing I’ll say about the meeting is Marcedes kind of opened it up, and from there it was a good conversation,” Rodgers told reporters in a Zoom call on Monday. “There’s a lot of guys with a lot of inside and really strong feelings and opinions, and it’s nice to have a venue like that to talk about those things and knowing that we’re the mouthpiece of the locker room and we can distribute the ideas spoken there to the rest of our rooms.”
According to ESPN’s Rob Demovksy, Rodgers and Lewis were one of several Packers veterans who were part of Monday’s post-practice meeting with kicker Mason Crosby and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith also believed to be in attendance, among others.