Chicago Bears players “decided to pause our football activities” Thursday, the players said in a statement tweeted by the team, as athletes across several professional leagues held strikes in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The statement was released after Thursday morning practice did not take place as scheduled.
“In the wake of what has taken place in our backyard of Kenosha over the last couple of days, we as a team have a lot on our mind today,” Bears players said. “We decided to pause our football activities to voice to each other, our coaches and our staff where we stand on the real issues around race and police brutality in our country.
“We had a productive discussion, but we all agreed that talks and discussions are simply not enough anymore and we need action. We are putting in plans to take action in our communities and together we believe we can make a real difference. We need action not only today, but in the days to come.”
The Bears’ practice was scheduled to begin at 9:20 a.m. At around 9:15, representatives for the team asked members of the media to leave Halas Hall in north suburban Lake Forest, telling reporters there was a “schedule change” and that the team would provide more details when they were available.
A few coaches and staff members could be seen on the field, but no players ever came out of the building.
At least two Bears players tweeted seemingly cryptic messages Thursday morning.
“Together we are inseparable,” running back Tarik Cohen tweeted just before 8 a.m.
Running back David Montgomery – recently sidelined with a groin injury – echoed that sentiment, posting, “Alone we are nothing, Together we are everything !!!!!”
Several other teams canceled practices Thursday as well, including the Indianapolis Colts, the New York Jets, the Washington Football Team, the Tennessee Titans, the Arizona Cardinals and the Green Bay Packers, according to ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter.
The cancellations came after athletes across several leagues chose not to participate in scheduled games in protest of the police shooting of Blake on Sunday.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first to opt not to take the floor in Wednesday’s playoff game with the Orlando Magic, which led the league to postpone all three of the evening’s games. The Bucks’ statement, read by players Wednesday night, called in part for the Wisconsin legislature to pass a package of police reforms and urged citizens to vote in November.
Some games in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and three WNBA contests, as players across four leagues decided the best way to use their platform and demand change was to literally step off the playing surface.
The WNBA postponed its three games Wednesday night, with four teams taking a knee at center court before leaving. The Washington Mystics entered the arena wearing shirts that spelled out Blake’s name on the front and bore seven holes in the back to symbolize the seven shots an officer fired into Blake’s back.
Games between the Cincinnati Reds and Brewers in Milwaukee, Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco were also called off hours before they were set to begin.
Some players, including Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, sat out while their teams played. Five Major League Soccer matches were postponed Wednesday night as players made a collective statement against racial injustice.