Jaguars Football Continues to Voice Advocacy for Social Justice

By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor

Photos by: Michael Dunn | Photographer

Last Saturday, you might have noticed something different from the South Alabama Jaguars’ jerseys in their 30-20 home win of the Texas State Bobcats. Several players from the starting quarterback in Desmond Trotter to the backups and non-dressed players on the sidelines had a special message on the jerseys where their names usually are. Some players had their names replaced with special messages relating to the continuing battle of social justice in the United States.

Trotter was spotted having the quote Equality on the back of his jersey. Trotter and most of the Jaguars have been very vocal in fighting for certain justice issues and advocating for the abolishing of systematic racism. One of the main playmakers at wide receiver in Jalen Tolbert also had the quote Equality on the back of his jersey. Starting cornerback Ryan Melton had the quote Say Her Name on his jersey, which goes back to the police killing of Louisville resident Brenna Taylor while she was asleep in her apartment. Sophomore offensive lineman Tyler Jernigan had the quote, Black Lives Matter, on his jersey.

Junior starting linebacker A.J. Deshazor had the quote Speak Up on the back of his jersey. This past Monday, DeShazor told the Vanguard that it was the player’s choice for the different quotes to fight against social injustice. 

“I just feel as though it’s important to shine a light and to speak up about those who have lost their lives and to focus on changing the racial and social injustice that is going on today,” DeShazor said.

The Jaguars’ special teams unit had a big group of their players displaying social justice issues. The Jaguars starting punter, Jack Brooks, and Senior long snapper Andrew Zink had the quote Freedom on their jersey. Senior long snapper Jake Harwell had the quote Vote on his jersey. Finally, junior placekicker Frankie Onate had Justice on the back of his jersey. Several defensive linemen such as starting defensive end Jeremiah Littles, starting defensive end Maurice Strong Jr., and backup defensive lineman Jamall Hickbottom had similar quotes as their teammates.

Late last Summer, the NCAA agreed to be less restrictive when it came to certain individual wear. They ultimately allowed social justice messages to be put on their jerseys on the front of jerseys in the form of patches or the nameplate on the back of jerseys. This comes after a series of serious social justice issues, such as the noticeable rise of systematic racism awareness and activism, voting rights violations, and violence involving police brutalities.

After the shooting of Kenosha resident Jacob Blake on Aug. 23, multiple sports leagues, teams, and players protested to demonstrate their frustration. The South Alabama Jaguars have been one of the loudest and proudest teams in the Sun Belt and the nation in their acts of peaceful protesting. They canceled multiple practices after the shooting of Jacob Blake to voice their call for change for racial and social justice.

The #1 Clemson Tigers are among the teams that have been using their popularity as a high-power College Football team to voice their concerns against racial and social injustice. In their first game of the season against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the Tigers put stickers such as Black Lives Matter, End Racism, and Equality. Most of the coaches for Clemson were against the altered uniforms as opposed to the traditional uniforms.The Jaguars’ players and coaches, led by head coach Steve Campbell, are fully committed to the challenge of racial and social justice issues through their performance on the field and their messages displayed. Expect the Jaguars to continue to use their voice throughout the season by establishing their advocacy for voting, abolishing racial injustices, and Black Lives Matter.