Sourdough Sam, the san Francisco 49ers mascot, tries to get the cardboard cutout fans to cheer during their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara, California. The gamings was symbolic of one era when COVID-19 and also social justice are conquering discussions. The Cardinals made decision to remain in their locker room during the nationwide anthem. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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When the “Star-Spangled Banner” echoed in a fanless, smoke-shrouded Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara, California, the Cardinals stayed in the visitor’s locker room.

Following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in May, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray announced he would kneel throughout the nationwide anthem in protest of social injustice. Instead, the Cardinals made the joined decision come sit out the pregame tradition and remain in the locker room, Arizona cornerback Bryon Murphy said.

“There’s a lot of stuff walking on in the world, however as a team, we all acquired to be one,” the second-year player said.

The society injustice issue hung over the entire league top top the opening weekend of games much like the hefty layer the smoke that enveloped the just Area and also cast one orange hue end Levi’s Stadium and also much the the west U.S. The extreme smoke, created by wildfires raging from southern California come Washington state, placed in question whether air quality would also be safe sufficient for the Cardinals and 49ers to play.

Play castle did, but an initial the Cardinals join seven various other NFL teams who continued to be inside as the anthem played, a gesture aimed at bringing attention to the need for social equality.Before Sunday’s game, the Cardinals maintained discussions around their main 1 society justice setup close to the vest, yet said they had full support native team owner Michael Bidwill.

Veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has actually known Bidwill for over 16 years and also said that while these issues are right now at the forefront, Bidwill has constantly been a solid proponent of gyeongju equality.

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“That’s what the Bidwill family’s always been about, in regards to social justice and prison revolutionary things,” Fitzgerald said after a practice last week. “He desires to be someone who’s gift progressive and taking the lead, and also he desires his company to do the same thing.”

In June, Bidwill and also the various other 31 NFL owner committed $250 million end the following decade toward combating systemic racism.

Before the season began the NFL laid out initiatives to encourage the black color Lives matter movement with messaging on the ago of helmets and also the playing of “Lift Every Voice and also Sing,” recognized as the Black nationwide anthem, in tandem through the customary anthem.

Murray determined the phrase “End Racism” ~ above his helmet, words the were likewise printed listed below the goalpost in ~ one finish of the ar with “It Takes all of Us” inscriptions on opposing goalpost.Once the video game began, however, it was football as usual. The Cardinals rallied from a 10-0 deficit to uncomfortable the defending NFC champions, 24-20.

While the NFL’s efforts didn’t overshadow the product on the field, NFL Commissioner roger Goodelll has actually acknowledged that he regrets no giving more attention to social injustice protests introduced in 2016 by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has not play in the league due to the fact that that season.

Meanwhile, Kaepenick tweeted Sunday the the NFL’s society justice initiatives are “propaganda” and also accused the league of blackballing his former teammate, safety Eric Reid.

Wide recipient Deandre Hopkins wore a Kaepernick jersey on the expedition to mountain Francisco and also at his post-game press conference in his Cardinals debut.

When asked about the jersey by reporters, Hopkins pulled at the all-black fabric and also lettering, showing it off and also waving that around.

The league may have actually recently taken a firm view on race, but Hopkins said activism isn’t new for him. Hopkins, who caught 14 overcome in his Cardinals debut, stated he’s happy to have a communication to speak for family members or friend who have actually been incarcerated, yet he’s an extremely familiar v the issue, citing his ancestry in south Carolina.

“Four-hundred year of slavery, for this reason it’s going to take a long time before everything comes ago to whereby it must be,” Hopkins said.