Twelve Minnesota Vikings players attended a memorial service for George Floyd in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday after the team canceled virtual meetings and ended the work day early.
According to Vikings reporter Eric Smith, those in attendance were Alexander Mattison, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, Mike Hughes, Garrett Bradbury, Aviante Collins, Dakota Dozier, Tajae' Sharpe, Tyler Conklin, Chad Beebe, Cam Smith and Jake Browning.
The players met at U.S. Bank Stadium and walked together to North Central University's campus, where the service was held. Rev. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy in front of Floyd's family, friends, celebrities and other supporters, including hundreds listening to the broadcast outside on loudspeakers.
Floyd, a black man, died in police custody May 25, prompting protests across the nation. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, has been charged with second-degree murder after video showed he pressed his knee on the neck of Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Three other former Minneapolis police officers were charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting a murder. All four officers were fired after Floyd's death.
Floyd's service, which was also attended by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie and University of Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck, included a moment of silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Two more memorial services are planned for Floyd: Saturday in his birthplace of Raeford, N.C., and Tuesday in Houston, where Floyd grew up and lived most of his life.
NFL teams such as the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers took part in Thursday's moment of silence from afar, with the Panthers doing so during a conference call with media.
The Arizona Cardinals didn't hold voluntary meetings or workouts on Thursday so their players could honor Floyd's memorial, according to running back Kenyan Drake.
"We are but a small cog in a big machine but gestures like these create dialogue and expands the vision to help take the next steps for a better tomorrow," Drake wrote on Twitter. "Peace and love."
Elsewhere, the Green Bay Packers put out a two-minute video with head coach Matt LaFleur and around a dozen players -- including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones -- contributing to a collaborative message.
Collectively, the group said they "stand united" against racism, police brutality, "a broken system," oppression and injustice, adding that "enough is enough" and "it's time for change."
Many coaches and general managers across the league spoke about Floyd and the protests that have followed. That group included San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who reflected on former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protests of police brutality in 2016, before Shanahan joined the team.
"What's different now, it's embarrassing to say, probably, but I think white people are more passionate about it now than then," Shanahan told reporters in a video conference call. "And that's our ignorance. And that's what upsets black people, and they have every right to be upset because they haven't just been telling us this the last few weeks. They've been telling us this since our grandparents. And I've been hearing it from every one of my friends since I was 14."
Shanahan also addressed the lack of diversity among NFL head coaches and general managers, an issue that has prompted rule changes this offseason to change hiring practices.
"It's tough because white people don't feel it," Shanahan said. "You're not going to think someone's racist but, you know what? How the heck are there only four black head coaches out of 32? How are there only two GMs? ...
"The number is not debatable, and that is an issue. I think we talk about it a lot and it is something that has to get better."
--Field Level Media