On a day where a number of teams spoke out against social injustice, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers made sure to be a part of the conversation.
Prior to the start of Friday night's scrimmage, the longtime Steelers head coach -- flanked by his players standing arm-in-arm, team president Art Rooney II and general manager Kevin Colbert -- stood on the 50-yard line at Heinz Field and delivered a powerful statement that addressed the need for change and the club's commitment to being involved in those efforts.
"This evening as we go about our normal football business, we come before you standing united as an organization, as a football team, as football men," Tomlin said, via the team's official website. "From different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and even countries of origin. We stand united by our talent and our love for the game of football. That love and those talents have taught us great tolerance and understanding. We realize that those blessings put us in the minority."
He continued, "We've learned a lot of lessons in 2020, being from the pandemic or the social unrest. The big perspective that it provided us is regardless of how big and important this game is for us, it's small in the big scheme of things. We also realize we are privileged to have a platform. We are committed to taking action and being a part of the solution to face social injustice and prejudice that we all face, not only in our country, but worldwide. It is our desire to be active participants in the formation of a more perfect union."
Tomlin added that recent events served as "a continued reminder of how far we are" from forming such a union. He acknowledged that those within the organization are "blessed and privileged" given their platform but such a label "does not shield us from sadness. This privilege does not shield us from shock or outrage. It does not shield us from fear, fear for our safety, or a loved one or an uncertain future."
He concluded his speech with a message for those who have been impacted by what has transpired, saying, "We wanted to pause and share with those that are hurting tonight that we see you, that we hear you, but most importantly we stand with you." Tomlin and the players then formed a circle in the middle of the field, took a knee and prayed.
The Steelers' act of solidarity was one of several such acts displayed by teams around the league on Friday. The Ravens held a session surrounding social justice reform while the Colts and Vikings each addressed the media regarding social justice issues. The Giants also made their thoughts known with the decision to begin their scrimmage in a fashion similar to Pittsburgh's.
New York locked arms and watched a video featuring several members of the organization voicing their desire to come together and make a difference. Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones and Sterling Shepard could be seen in the 54-second video, which can be viewed below.
A PA announcer then came on and encouraged those in attendance at MetLife Stadium to take a moment to "reflect on our country and how we can all contribute to make it fairer, more equal and more united."