Falcons, Lions name Martin Luther King Jr. honorary captain for 'Rise Up and Vote' game

Cassandra Negley
·3 min read

Martin Luther King Jr. is an honorary captain for an NFL game this weekend.

The Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons together selected the civil rights icon for their Week 7 game. King’s daughter, Bernice King, is scheduled to be in attendance in her hometown of Atlanta. It’s the Falcons’ designated “RISE UP and VOTE” game to show the importance of using one’s voice to vote.

Falcons honor iconic Atlantans, including MLK

As part of their push for voting and social justice, the Falcons are honoring iconic Atlantans at every home game. They have done so with late Congressman John Lewis and late Reverend C.T. Vivian, who each died in July, and the late Reverend Joseph E. Lowery.

Bernice King will pull the Train Horn prior to kickoff and the field will have the team’s “RISE UP and VOTE” logo. The Falcons are wearing their gradient “Rise Up” uniforms and special cleats.

Falcons chief marketing officer Morgan Shaw Parker noted the reason for the gradient in a team release.

“Sport is a powerful way to inspire and encourage fans and I'm proud of the way our players, our entire organization and these two teams have come together around voting.

“The Rise Up gradient uniform design was always bigger than just an alternate look. It embodies the essence of our city and signifies our strength as a community. Atlanta has risen and triumphed through adversity and as our honorary leaders from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to John Lewis and many others we honor every day have shown us, we will never stop using our voice and our collective platforms for good.”

The game comes 10 days before the 2020 presidential election. There has been record early voting in the United States ahead of the Nov. 3 election day. Teams in all sports have been recognizing the importance for the past few months.

Lions’ pregame T-shirts honor MLK

The Lions wore pregame warm-up T-shirts featuring a quote from MLK.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” is in bold letters above an attribution and small logos for both teams.

The Lions adopted the phrase “We won’t be silent” this offseason and stopped practice in August to call attention to the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

In the lead-up to the game, the Falcons and Lions hosted a virtual panel discussion on the importance of voting and the need for social justice reform. Quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford took part in the discussions. Ryan and Stafford, who played at Georgia, have each contributed more than $1 million to social justice causes.

The Lions are wearing T-shirts honoring Martin Luther King Jr. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Lions are wearing T-shirts honoring Martin Luther King Jr. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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