The Carolina Panthers wanted to do something more impactful to support protests against racial injustice than cancel their practice session, said coach Matt Rhule.
Games in the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS were postponed on Wednesday after the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin – footage of which was shared widely on social media.
Blake's family says he has been left paralysed from the waist down and the incident has led to further protests against racism and police brutality in the United States.
They follow global Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd dying in police custody in Minneapolis in May after an officer knelt on his neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds.
Some major sports teams showed their support for the protests by pausing their activity, but Rhule explained the Panthers' decision for continuing with a scheduled training session at Bank of America Stadium.
"When I saw the NBA had cancelled, I met with a couple of leaders on our team," said Rhule.
"I know they had talked and just sort of said, 'Where are you guys' thoughts at? Where are your hearts, where are your minds, in terms of practising or not practising?'. I know they had mixed emotions. I was there to support them no matter what.
"They wanted to be in support of the NBA and of social justice, but I think in the end they also felt like they wanted to do something impactful. They wanted to take some time and do something more than just missing a Wednesday night practice.
"They recognised a lot of people here in Charlotte were anticipating seeing them playing and I just think they felt like, 'Let's do this at the right time'.
"As some of the players told me, the perpetual rage, the perpetual anger and fear and disenfranchisement and all these things that guys are feeling, it manifests itself in different ways.
"It's not right that the guys were forced to feel this way, that even though we stand out on the streets and protest and demand change, these things aren't changing and are still happening.
"I do think the message I heard today is, 'It's time for change'. We just can't keep doing this and saying something is going to change, we have to make a change and I think the Carolina Panthers are completely committed to that."