After lengthy conversations between Coach Ron Rivera and Jason Wright, its recently hired president, the Washington Football Team canceled its scheduled practice at FedEx Field on Thursday in response to the incident involving Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis.

The team, including Wright and owner Daniel Snyder, will instead convene at its training facility in Ashburn to have an “open dialogue” on racism and social injustice in the United States.

“Jason Wright and I worked this afternoon to develop a response that has the right balance between the business of football and being truly thoughtful about the social injustice we witnessed with this latest incident in Wisconsin,” Rivera said in a statement released by the team Wednesday night. “We went to Mr. Snyder with our plan for [Thursday] and we were given his complete support and approval. Friday we can return to football. But [Thursday] will be about reflection instead.”

According to people with knowledge of the situation, the team is hopeful that the stadium practice will be rescheduled before the end of training camp next week.

“In place of our practice at FedEx Field, the players, coaches and football staff will meet as a football family and we will continue our open dialogue on the issues of racism and social injustice in our country,” Rivera continued. “Mr. Snyder and Jason will join us in our discussion with the team, just as Mr. Snyder and I will support Jason in similar discussions we are planning for members of the business and stadium side of the organization. We are all in this together. And as a team we will work to figure out ways that we can make a positive impact in our communities.”

The team’s decision comes on the heels of postponed games across multiple sports leagues to protest police brutality and injustice against Black Americans. The Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday afternoon, prompting the NBA to postpone all three games on its schedule. The WNBA followed suit, and games in Major League Soccer and MLB were also postponed.

The decision of Washington’s NFL team is a continuation of the efforts by Rivera to establish a new culture for the franchise and to talk openly about societal issues.

Earlier this year, following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Rivera announced the team established a town hall program led by six members of the organization, including senior vice president of player development Doug Williams and full-time coaching intern Jennifer King. The organization also started a Black Engagement Network to support its Black employees through professional development and community outreach.

“I have been tasked with leading this entire organization, and I have always believed in the mantra that actions speak louder than words,” Rivera said at the time. “ … I am proud of everyone who is on the right side of this fight against social injustice. I am eager to help in any way I can in making a difference.”

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