‘Football takes a back-burner’: Cardinals cancel practice amid Jacob Blake protests

Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury (right) gave his players the day off Thursday in reaction to the shooting of Jacob Blake. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Cardinals are among at least seven NFL teams to cancel or postpone practices Thursday in light of protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury addressed the media via Zoom Thursday morning, emphasizing time with family and space to think as reasons for his decision to call off all football activities.

“There’s times you know, when football takes a back-burner. And we felt like this was one of those moments as an organization,” Kingsbury said. “We wanted (the players) to know this is their day.”

Players and staff met at 8 a.m. Thursday in what Kingsbury described was a “somber” mood.

While an official decision was made following the meeting, Kingsbury said players were already in discussion regarding how to move forward.

“We have a tremendous locker room – guys that take a lot of pride in social responsibility and the way they carry themselves,” Kingsbury said. “There had definitely been conversations within the locker room.”

Boycotts in professional sports began Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association sat out their first-round playoff contest against the Orlando Magic.

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Other leagues and organizations followed suit, as the rest of Wednesday’s NBA slate was postponed as well as games in MLB, MLS, the NHL and the WNBA.

“As players and coaches, we have a tremendous platform that can help keep the spotlight,” Kingsbury said. “We have that ability to touch lives and lead by example, and I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.”

Kingsbury told reporters the biggest challenge for him as a coach is knowing the sacrifices players have had to make both on and off the field.

“I look up to those guys,” Kingsbury said. “There are not a lot of words that I can say, and you wish you could. … You want to make sure they know that you care about them and support them above all else.”

He also emphasized the importance of protest in sports, citing methods like kneeling during the national anthem as not an expression of anti-patriotism, but one of speaking out against issues that need to be addressed.

“It has always been about drawing attention to the social injustice and that continues to take place,” Kingsbury said. “Police brutality against people of color continues to happen, and let’s not forget that, confuse it with something else or make the narrative different.”

Kingsbury said the Cardinals are set to return to practice on Friday.

News Reporter, Phoenix

Harry Croton, who was born in England and grew up in Santa Barbara, California, expects to graduate in December 2020 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. A reporter for Cronkite News and Sports, he has been a reporting intern at KJZZ, covered the sports desk at the State Press and hosted two shows on Blaze Radio.