Players send passionate video message to NFL about racial inequality

NFL stars team up for powerful message to the NFL (1:10)

Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. headline NFL players speaking out for justice in a statement directed at the NFL. (1:10)

Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who united to send a passionate video message to the league about racial inequality.

The 70-second video was released on social media platforms Thursday night and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Jarvis Landry, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.

Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who has led the league in receptions the past two seasons, was a key organizer of the video effort, sources told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. In his efforts to spearhead the planning of the video, Thomas reached out to a member of the NFL's social media team who often works with players during the season for help with execution and the league was aware of this.

Thomas, who appeared to take a shot a teammate Drew Brees in a tweet after the quarterback's comments on disrespecting the flag, later tweeted that he had accepted Brees' apology, adding "Now back to the movement!"

Thomas opens the video with the statement: "It's been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered." The players then take turns asking the question, "What if I was George Floyd?"

The players then name several of the black men and women who have recently been killed, including Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner.

"I AM George Floyd," Hopkins says.

Adams follows with: "I AM Breonna Taylor."

The video closes with the players insisting they "will not be silenced." They also demand the NFL state that it condemns "racism and the systemic oppression of black people. ... We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. ... We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."

In a statement on social media Thursday night, the NFL said it stands with the black community "because Black Lives Matter."

"This is a time of self-reflection for all -- the NFL is no exception," the league said. "We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter.

"Through Inspire Change, the NFL, Players and our partners have supported programs and initiatives throughout the country to address systemic racism. We will continue using our platform to challenge the injustice around us.

"To date we have donated $44 million to support hundreds of worthy organizations. This year, we are committing an additional $20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work.

"We know that we can and need to do more."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.