Due to the shifting conversation in this country regarding social justice and race relations, the NFL decided back in July that it would allow its players to wear the names of victims of racism and police violence on a helmet decal for the 2020 season.
One Detroit Lions player personally impacted by systemic racism and race-related violence is safety Tracy Walker. Walker’s cousin, Ahmaud Arbery was killed as an unarmed civilian while jogging through his Georgia neighborhood. The two men responsible for his death were not arrested or charged until video of the incident went public nearly two months after the shooting.
Walker told reporters on Tuesday that he fully plans to honor Arbery in several ways during the season.
“I’m definitely going to wear his name on the back of my helmet, with the whole social injustice thing,” Walker said. “I’m still working on it, but I’m working on few t-shirts that I’m getting with his picture on it. I’m going to play with that on underneath my uniform. His name is going to be on my cleats. The whole nine. I’m just going to continue to speak on the behalf of what he had went through.”
Back in June, Walker appeared on CNN to remember his close cousin.
“He was a great soul, man,” Walker said. “He was a funny person. He was always about having a good time. He wasn’t no person to beef with people. Like I said, he stays in his own lane. He wasn’t the type to go out and cause trouble. He always wanted to have a good time, put smiles on people’s faces.”
Today, instead of focusing on the pain of losing his cousin, Walker is trying to put more energy into taking this opportunity to honor, remember and take some good from this situation. Arbery’s death, along with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, has sparked a movement in this country and opened up conversations that would’ve otherwise been ignored.
“It’s definitely a blessing for me to be able to do that—for the NFL to accept me to be able to speak out in that manner, especially with the whole (Colin) Kaepernick situation that went down,” Walker said. “It’s a blessing for the NFL to actually just listen and accept what’s going on right now.”