After Blake’s shooting, Packers players and executives determined they wanted to act beyond public statements. Packers CEO Mark Murphy traced the franchise’s desire to increase local police accountability back to Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has been exiled from the NFL since he knelt during the national anthem in protest during the 2016 season.
“What are the areas where you can make an impact?” Murphy told The Washington Post in a phone conversation. “The nice thing about the body cams is, there’s pretty much a consensus these are good things to have. The only people against it are bad cops and criminals.
“These have been issues for years. Obviously, it came to a head a couple years ago with Colin Kaepernick and the protest. We’ve always been very supportive of our players. At least in my mind, for us, the Jacob Blake shooting happened right in our backyard. To me, it was kind of an inflection point. We can’t just raise these issues. We can’t just make people aware of them. We need to move beyond that. We’re in a very privileged position as an organization where we can help impact change. We have a responsibility to do that.”
The Packers provided $757,000 for the purchase of public safety technology company Axon’s package, which includes body cameras, training and a video system that allows officers to review their performance with supervisors, the team said in a news release. The total cost is $3.6 million. The city of Green Bay will pay $1.95 million after the Packers’ financial support and discounts related to the Packers’ involvement, including a promotional deal.
The city of Green Bay had tried to buy body cameras for its police five years ago but found it too expensive, Police Chief Andrew Smith said in a video statement. Without the Packers’ involvement, Smith said, the department could not have afforded Axon’s system.
“Those body cams can tell the entire story,” Packers wide receiver Davante Adams said in a team-produced video. “There’s been a lot of questionable things that have happened, a lot of things caught on camera. It just makes you wonder about things that aren’t caught on camera. We just wanted to make sure we did something like that, something that was measurable.”
Dating back to Kaepernick, NFL players have been at the fore of pushing the NFL into acting on social justice issues. This summer, in the wake of the NFL’s tepid statement following the death of George Floyd while in police custody, several star players filmed a video imploring Commissioner Roger Goodell to apologize to players who had protested and say, “Black Lives Matter.” Goodell did so in a video response.
In the wake of Blake’s shooting this summer, Packers players met and discussed the incident and broader societal problems.
“We took immediate action as a leadership council, as a team, just trying to figure out what’s the most impactful way to make a difference,” Adams said. “Obviously tweeting and all those type of things are a bunch of different acts you can do to bring light to this topic. But it was something we wanted to make sure we did the right way, and we found something that was really impactful.”