NFL teams huddling up to devise plans for social change

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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold warms up during a practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Florham Park, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Sam Darnold watched as several of his New York Jets teammates took turns speaking, many of whom got emotional.

And, the quarterback did what he thought was his best play at that moment.

He listened.

“I took the time to understand it is different growing up Black in America,” Darnold said Saturday. “And I now understand that better.”

Darnold recalled how his parents always harped on him returning home before dark in Southern California so he didn't get lost. He heard another not-so-sugarcoated side of that same curfew rule from his teammates.

“They were told, 'Hey, make sure you’re home before dark or else something bad can happen,'” Darnold said. “That's a different conversation than what my parents had with me.”

The Jets were one of nine NFL teams that canceled practice Thursday in wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin last Sunday. Instead of taking the field, the entire team spent more than four hours talking about racial injustice and social issues.

The conversations — which included team president and CEO Christopher Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas and coach Adam Gase — were led by players detailing their experiences with racism, inequality and police brutality. They continued their discussions Friday, an off day, to begin devising plans to effect change among each other and in the community.