38 Falcons to wear decal of victim of social injustice, or phrase

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen on the team honoring former Georgia congressman John Lewis as a captain for Sunday's season opener

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Quinn to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ decal on his cap

The NFL announced earlier this year that players will be able to honor victims of systemic racism on their helmets during the 2020 season. Players can list the name of a victim of social injustice or a phrase on the bottom of their helmet.

The Falcons released the names of the 38 players who will participate this season and their chosen name or phrase.

“On my hat, I’m choosing for a decal, ‘Black Lives Matter’,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “So, you’ll see that on my hat.”

Among the participants, Matt Ryan will wear ‘It Takes All of Us,’ Julio Jones will wear ‘Aiyana Stanley-Jones,’ Todd Gurley will wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ and Grady Jarrett will wear ‘Breonna Taylor.’

Steven Means chose to wear the name of childhood friend Dennis “Ballie” Browning. In the announcement released by the Falcons, Means explained his decision.

“Coming from the inner city of Buffalo, I watched people get brutalized by the police regularly. Me and Dennis (Ballie) played little league football together and against each other. Ballie found himself in unfortunate situations trying to make money that landed him in jail.

"He called home after his family hadn’t heard from him and was once again beaten by the cops in prison. His family tried to gain media attention by letting the public know, but they didn’t recognize his story. A couple of years later he was found murdered in his prison cell. No inmate was found guilty of the crime. I want to represent his family.”

In addition to wearing the helmet decals, the team will make former politician John Lewis an honorary captain.

“With everything going on right now in the world, we thought it would be best to start off with somebody as legendary as John Lewis,” free safety Ricardo Allen said. "He’s done so much for …one of our biggest things that we want to stay connected with ... is the Voting (Rights) Act. We know that John Lewis, was a big part of that and a big ready why that is a part of the world today.

“To be able to tie that in with our team and be able to do it with such a great man as John Lewis, someone that I’ve been blessed enough to go down and do the Selma walk with myself. I was all in for it with him.”

Quinn instituted a social-justice committee on the team in 2017.

“My first role is listening and then supporting,” said Quinn, who marched in the Buckhead for Black Lives Matter march this summer. “So, for the players knowing that I have their back, not just listening and supporting, but demonstrating that support is such a big piece of it.”

The Falcons are not sure if they will kneel during the anthem or stay in the locker room.

“We are trying to find a way to respect everybody without it becoming a team battle," Allen said. "We want to find something that will bring us all together and be very unifying. We are still working on it.”

Here is the complete list:

Ricardo Allen: Stop Hate

Allen Bailey: Ahmaud Arbery

Christian Blake: Trayvon Martin

John Cominsky: It Takes All of Us

Marlon Davidson: Black Lives Matter

Darqueze Dennard: Black Lives Matter

Russell Gage: It Takes All of Us

Jaden Graham: Stop Hate

Todd Gurley: Black Lives Matter

Charles Harris: It Takes All of Us

Josh Harris: Stop Hate

Jaylinn Hawkins: Breonna Taylor

Matt Hennessey: Black Lives Matter

Brian Hill: End Racism

Sterling Hofrichter: Stop Hate

Grady Jarrett: Breonna Taylor

Julio Jones: Aiyana Stanley-Jones

Younghoe Koo: Stop Hate

Chris Lindstrom: Stop Hate

Alex Mack: It Takes All of Us

Justin McCray: Black Lives Matter

Kaleb McGary: Stop Hate

Steven Means: Dennis “Ballie” Browning

Keanu Neal: It Takes All of Us

Sharrod Neasman: Breonna Taylor

Isaiah Oliver: Ahmaud Arbery

Qadree Ollison: Black Lives Matter

Foye Oluokon: It Takes All of Us

LaRoy Reynolds: Joshua Johnson

Calvin Ridley: Black Lives Matter

Matt Ryan: It Takes All of Us

Ito Smith: Alton Sterling

Keith Smith: Black Lives Matter

A.J. Terrell: Black Lives Matter

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: End Racism

Mykal Walker: It Takes All of Us

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: Breonna Taylor

Olemide Zaccheaus: It Takes All of Us

Falcons coach Dan Quinn and wife, Stacey (to his right), take part in a protest in Buckhead on Sunday, June 7, 2020.  D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)
Falcons coach Dan Quinn and wife, Stacey (to his right), take part in a protest in Buckhead on Sunday, June 7, 2020. D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

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