The players filed into their make-shift meeting room at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday, physically distanced from one another but united in thought. This may have been just another day of Training Camp for the Kansas City Chiefs, but this particular gathering wasn't about the Xs and Os.
This wasn't about the camp schedule, the playbook or anything football-related, for that matter. This meeting - symbolically held on the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act being signed into law - was about inspiring change.
"This is really a great opportunity for all of us to do something that really means something," safety Tyrann Mathieu said to the group. "People want to hear from us and when we speak up, it means something. I urge everybody to sit down, take a step back and realize that this situation is much bigger than everybody in this room."
Mathieu was speaking about the importance of voting, and more specifically, the act of registering to vote in order to ensure that each and every voice is heard.
"Voter registration - no matter whatever views you have or what political party you're voting for – [is important] because it gives everybody the right to vote," quarterback Patrick Mahomes said to his teammates. "It's something we believe in and as leaders in this community, we all should be registered to vote."
Mahomes went on to share a story about the difficulties he ran into when trying to make sure he was registered, explaining that what seems like a simple concept isn't always easy. That's where RISE plans to help with its nonpartisan initiative RISE to Vote, which is dedicated to providing voter registration and education sessions for athletes.
"If we weren't having this meeting, I wouldn't even know that I wasn't registered," said Mahomes, who was under the impression he had taken the necessary steps to register. "That's why we partnered with RISE. They have the tools to make sure that we as leaders in the community can get registered."
That was the focus of Thursday's meeting, which featured a virtual presentation from the folks at RISE on how they can help and why their cause is so important.
The call emphasized the empowerment that comes with participating in an election - from those on a national scale to local government – and how by the players exercising their right to vote, it could inspire others to do the same.
"As a young black man in America, for a while I felt like my vote didn't count," Mathieu said. "I've grown to realize though that we all can chip in and make things better. I feel like this is the perfect time to do something that's really going to be remembered by people outside of the football bubble, and I'm looking forward to seeing everybody step up and play their part."
This initiative and the players' partnership with RISE is the result of several meetings and discussions focused on how to foster positive change and combat social injustices in the United States. Those issues were brought to the forefront by the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery earlier this year, which provided a grievous reminder of the inequality that exists in our nation and inspired players across the NFL to make their voices heard.
With all of that in mind, the Chiefs' meeting with RISE was an example of several similar meetings that will take place throughout the league in the coming weeks in an effort to ensure that every player is registered to vote while inspiring fans to do the same.
"I'd ask everybody in here just to find your passion," Mathieu said. "I'm looking forward to seeing everybody play their part in trying to make society a better place."
To learn more about how you can make your voice heard, click here.