The New Orleans Saints weren't one of the NFL teams that called off practice on Thursday to protest the Jacob Blake shooting. However, they showed respect to the 29-year old Black man who was shot in Wisconsin as Drew Brees and other Saints players put Blake's name on their helmet. This move came just months after Brees took some heat for his comments on players kneeling during the national anthem.
"It was crushing. Never ever would I feel that way. Now, I recognize that I missed an opportunity that day," Brees said to reporters earlier this month when talking about the comments he made in June. "I had an opportunity to talk about and emphasize the social injustices that exist for our Black community and our need as a country to support them and to advocate for systemic change. And my lack of awareness in that moment hurt a lot of people."
After practice, Saints head coach Sean Payton explained why the team put Blake's name on their helmets. "The thing I mentioned last night to the team is, I think we got a really good locker room. If they came up with something they wanted to do, I would support it," Payton said. "There might be still something they wish to do. The idea of putting his name on everyone's helmet was something we felt would be appropriate and they were for it. "
There were nine NFL teams to call off practice, including the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Football Team. For the Packers, it was head coach Matt Lafleur who made the decision to cancel practice because of the emotional meetings that took place in the morning.
"Not one guy said that they didn't want to practice today; that didn't even come up," LaFleur said to reporters 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."