Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Over the weekend, record-setting former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss attended his NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony wearing a tie that made much more than simply a fashion statement. The tie was carefully embroidered with over 10 names of unarmed African Americans who lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement or died while in custody.
Many professional sports players and coaches have continued to follow the recent lead of Colin Kaepernick to protest the continued brutality of African Americans by law enforcement officers. Kaepernick’s now iconic kneel during the National Anthem in the 2016 NFL season was the catalyst for growing debate and controversy around his intentions with doing so. Moss’ subtle yet powerful demonstration of awareness and support during the high-profile ceremony did not go unnoticed. His tie commemorated the lives of Greg Gunn, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Paul O'Neal, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Akiel Denkins, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Brendon Glenn, Philando Castile, and Terence Crutcher.
Randy Moss' tie he wore tonight pic.twitter.com/RreQNkkNmZ— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 5, 2018
In an extensive statement to the NFL Network, Moss shared: "What I wanted to be able to express with my tie is to let these families know that they're not alone, I'm not here voicing, but by these names on my tie and a big platform as the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there's a lot of stuff going on in our country. And I just wanted to let these family members know they're not alone."
Moss is most notably recognized for setting the record for most touchdown receptions in a season while he played for the New England Patriots in 2007. He also played with the Minnesota Vikings and in total, played 14 seasons with the NFL.
With this thoughtful and intentional fashion choice, Moss carries on an important legacy of activism amongst Black professional athletes. He joins the ranks of other historically outspoken trailblazers, such as Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and Bill Russell who used their platforms as professional players to also lift their voices and bring awareness to important social justice issues directly impacting African Americans. While doing so has caused some to question the patriotism of outspoken Black athletes, others acknowledge their freedom to peacefully protest as the ultimate act of patriotism that at the very least, should be respected.
Congratulations on your induction, Mr. Moss! We also salute your decision to raise your voice and offer acknowledgement and support to the families affected by police brutality.