The New Orleans Saints wore stickers with Jacob Blake’s name in place of their own names during Thursday’s practice.
The team decided on the gesture following a meeting Wednesday night after the Milwaukee Bucks and several other NBA teams announced that they would not play their scheduled playoff games in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake. Following that announcement, teams in MLB, MLS and other athletes joined the in the protest pledging not to play.
“So I think that we are all going to get together and see if we can do more than that.”
Sanders says seeing situations like Blake’s and having to keep calling for social justice and change is “exhausting.”
“It just keeps happening,” Sanders said. “It becomes exhausting.
“To me being able to use this platform us athletes are on, it’s amazing. But to keep talking about the same things…truthfully, we just want to live in a world, in a nation, where you are not judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character like Martin Luther King Jr. said.
“I’m over here talking to you guys when my job is, truthfully, to play football, but I have to speak on these issues. I have to talk about these issues, address these issues, because of the platform we're on and it is a problem in America…”
Sanders added that these issue particularly resonate with him as the victims of the these high-profile police shootings in recent months have been, like himself, black.
“Every time I see that situation I think that could’ve easily been me, you know. That could easily be one of my cousins. That could easily be one of my uncles,” he said.
Sanders said incidents like Blake’s shooting project the image that police officers don’t value African American lives as much as other races.
Saints coach Sean Payton said he understood and supported his player’s desire for change.
“I think that it’s never easy and yet these topics, sometimes, aren’t easy,” Payton said. “There’s an old adage that the obstacle is the way. It’s not going around. It’s understanding and going through it and addressing it, even it means uncomfortable conversations and topics that make people somewhat uneasy.”