FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys practiced Thursday morning at The Star as scheduled, but head coach Mike McCarthy said the team will continue conversations about the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin regarding Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man shot by Kenosha police.
The events in Kenosha have sparked more outrage in the wake of a national reckoning on social injustice since George Floyd's death in Minnesota police custody on May 25. Wednesday, the NBA postponed their full slate of playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. MLB and WNBA games were also postponed. The Detroit Lions canceled their Tuesday practice to have an expanded discussion on the issue.
The Cowboys' players didn't have a scheduled practice Wednesday, only meetings, including a scheduled seminar on voting, McCarthy said.
"I have to be honest, it's hard to sit here and to think I have to talk about football today, especially with everything that's going on in our country," McCarthy said before Thursday's practice.
"I've spent the evening last night listening and watching everything that's going on in the NBA, the WNBA the MLB and across our league. These are unprecedented times in our country with the pandemic, the hurricanes getting ready to hit or have already hit down in the Gulf, obviously that's close to a lot of our players and the families that are being affected as we speak, and then the obvious is the social injustice – the disturbing situation in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"With that, I just want to let you guys know that the conversations within our football team are ongoing. There was a players' leadership group that talked yesterday, and I think really with our schedule today, with the 8 o'clock practice, we'll just continue those conversations. Obviously difficult times where things have to change. I find it disturbing."
Center Joe Looney led a team prayer on the field immediately after practice ended inside Ford Center. The team planned to have more discussions together during afternoon meetings.
"Practicing today was obviously a team decision," safety Darian Thompson said. "We are not shedding a blind eye to the things that are occurring in this world today. These situations are difficult to talk about, but they do need to be talked about. That's an ongoing conversation between our teammates and our staff to try to figure out how to make a difference in this world today.
"We need to talk about a way to make a stand and make a change and to shed light on what's right and what's wrong in what's going on in this world today. These are conversations that are being had in the offices, in the locker room between staff, between players, and we're going to figure out a way to put our best foot forward and address the situations that are going on."
During virtual offseason meetings in the spring, McCarthy encouraged open dialogue about the George Floyd tragedy and the topics of social justice and racial equality. The Cowboys have also continued a players-led program featuring interactions with community leaders to learn more about systemic racism and find the best ways to effect change.
"The term I struggle with right now is we all feel sports is a great escape for tough times in our society and it's supposed to be the entertainment. But you can't escape what's going on right now," McCarthy said. "We've got major, major challenges in our society right now that need to be addressed, and the best way to get there, what's the answer? It's not going to happen overnight, but I think this energy and this focus needs to definitely be pointed to the challenges that are in front of us."