The Minnesota Vikings begin their 2020 season against the rival Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but the team has dedicated much of the lead-up to its anticipated Week 1 game to raising awareness of the "critical issues of racism and injustice." That includes plans for an extensive pre-game program featuring various tributes to victims of police brutality -- most notably a moment of recognition for the family of George Floyd, who will be inside U.S. Bank Stadium ahead of kickoff.
Floyd, who was killed at the age of 46 this Memorial Day at the hands of Minneapolis police, will also receive special emphasis on a T-shirt Vikings players will wear when they take the field for pre-game warm-ups on Sunday. Floyd's name is one of more than 200 listed on the apparel, which features the slogans, "Be The Change," and "Say Their Names," and is meant to honor victims of racism and police brutality in America. Floyd's family will be recognized following a pre-recorded performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," as well as a video showcasing the social justice work of NFL players in their communities.
When the #Vikings take the field ahead of their Sunday opener, they'll wear these "Be The Change" T-shirts highlighting 200+ victims of racism or police brutality, with special emphasis on George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis: pic.twitter.com/dfenHpeYQt— Cody Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) September 11, 2020
Also on tap for Sunday's pre-game festivities at U.S. Bank Stadium, which will not house fans as part of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions: A pre-recorded performance of the national anthem by Sounds of Blackness, an African-American gospel/R&B ensemble from the Twin Cities; and moments of recognition for Sara and Jamil Stamschror-Lott, who lead the local organizations All Square and Creative Kuponya -- which advocate for social justice through everything from community therapy to support for the formerly incarcerated.
The Vikings will also partake in NFL-wide social justice initiatives by allowing players to wear helmet decals featuring the names of those lost to either racial injustice or police brutality. (Starting linebacker Eric Kendricks, for example, is expected to pay tribute to Breonna Taylor on Sunday.) The end zones at U.S. Bank Stadium will include the messages, "End Racism," and "It Takes All Of Us."
Minnesota has arguably been the epicenter of the renewed nationwide movement for social and racial justice, with the Vikings taking a direct response to Floyd's viral Memorial Day killing. A dozen of the team's players attended Floyd's Minneapolis memorial over the summer, and the Wilf family, which owns the franchise, has since pledged $5 million to various social justice causes, including the formation of a George Floyd Memorial Scholarship and increased investment in local nonprofits advocating for change.