Player-Led Social Justice Legislation

These player-led efforts have resulted in changes in voter laws, juvenile justice, criminal justice reform, improved funding for educational opportunities across the country and much more. 

Ohio’s Senate Bill 256

Eliminates life sentences without the possibility of parole for incarcerated people convicted of crimes they committed before turning 18.

Players Coalition and Cleveland Browns tackle Chris Hubbard & Tennessee Titans tackle Kendall Lamm wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting Senate Bill 256 to keep incarcerated people convicted as juveniles from spending life in prison.

The bill eliminates life sentences without the possibility of parole for incarcerated people convicted of crimes committed before turning 18.

With their support, the legislation was signed into law on January 13, 2021 and was effective April 12, 2021. Eligible inmates will now be eligible for parole after no more than 18 years of incarceration for most offenses, and no more than 25-30 years for a crime that involved a homicide.

Delaware’s House Bill 115

Prohibits prosecution of children under the age of 12 and establishes a minimum age of 16 to prosecute a child as an adult.

Players Coalition supporters and NFL Legends wrote a letter to the Delaware House Judiciary Committee supporting House Bill 115 on March 23, 2021.

The bill prohibits the prosecution of children under the age of 12 and establishes a minimum age of 16 to prosecute a child as an adult.

On June 29, 2021, the Delaware State Senate unanimously passed House Bill 115. It unanimously passed the Delaware House on June 17, 2021. The bill will keep children under 12 out of the juvenile court system and greatly limit the prosecution of youth as adults. The bill will need to be signed by Governor John Carney before it can take effect.

Georgia’s Senate Bill 105

Provides a streamlined process for parolees or probationers to terminate their probation sentences after three years, as long as they meet certain eligibility criteria.

Players Coalition members, led by NFL Legend Benjamin Watson and the Georgia Justice Project lobbied for the passing of Georgia Senate Bill 105 also known as the Probation Reform Bill. On May 4, 2021, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill into law and it went into effect immediately.

The bill will further reform Georgia's probation system, providing a process for individuals to terminate their probation sentences after three years, as long as they meet certain eligibility criteria. Georgia has the most formerly incarcerated individuals serving felony probation sentences in the country.

Following the signing of the bill, up to 25% of all felony probationers qualify for immediate early termination. The bill also provides incentives and hope for individuals serving long sentences and saves Georgia $34 million a year spent supervising individuals who qualify for a shortened parole.

Colorado Senate Bill 20-217

Enhances law enforcement integrity by requiring that body cameras be worn by all state and local law enforcement officers, by banning the use of tear gas and other chemical agents, and by prohibiting chokeholds.

Beginning in 2023, police must report all use of force that results in bodily injury or death to a state agency.

Denver Broncos' running backs coach Curtis Modkins encouraged 40 Broncos players to contact their mayor and local legislators, and to post on social media to help get SB20-217 passed. Their advocacy efforts helped publicize the importance of the bill and brought it to national attention. 

The bill was signed by the Colorado governor on June 19, 2020 and takes effect on July 1, 2023. Colorado law enforcement agencies have already begun special training on use of force under the new law.

Since the passing of SB20-217, five other states have introduced similar police reform bills and two of them have made them law.

California Assembly Bill 2542

Prohibits the state from seeking or obtaining a criminal conviction or imposing a sentence, based upon race, ethnicity, or national origin.

On August 27, 2020, Players Coalition supporters, including Torry Holt (NFL Legend), Sebastian Joseph-Day (NFL), Tyson Ross (Major League Baseball), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Major League Soccer) & Juan Archuleta (Mixed Martial Arts), wrote an op-ed advocating for the passage of AB 2542.

The bill was signed into law on September 30, 2020. Incarcerated persons in California convicted on or after January 1, 2021 can challenge their conviction or sentence by demonstrating that discrimination played a role in their prosecution. This will decrease the number of convicted felons in the California justice system who were wrongfully convicted based upon factors such as race.

Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act (S.2163/H.R. 1636)

Establishes a 19-member national commission that will examine the societal disparities that disproportionately affect Black males in America.

On July 10, 2020, Executive Vice President of NFL Football Operations, Troy Vincent, Sr., sent a letter of support for H.R. 1636 to Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Florida Representative Frederica Wilson.

The bill was signed into law on August 17, 2020 and took effect immediately.

The commission's 19 members will include congressional lawmakers, executive branch appointees, issue experts, activists and other stakeholders who will examine social disparities affecting Black men and boys in America. Based on its findings, the commission will issue policy recommendations to Congress, the White House and federal agencies.

Massachusetts Student Opportunity Act Chapter 132

Increases public funds for school systems with higher percentages of low-income students and English language learners, along with increasing public-school funding across the state by $1.5 billion over seven years.

NFL players Devin and Jason McCourty testified at the Massachusetts State House in favor of the bill and visited schools to encourage communities to support the bill.

The bill unanimously passed the Massachusetts House and Senate, was signed into law on November 26, 2019 and took effect beginning in 2020.

The law is the most significant update to the state’s school funding system since 1993 and will primarily benefit low-income students, students of color and English learners who live in underfunded public-school districts. The law will also bolster counseling and psychological services in Massachusetts schools.

Michigan’s “Raise the Age” Legislation

Ensures that any convicted person under 18 years of age will be treated as a minor in juvenile court and receive the rehabilitation services that are offered in the juvenile justice system unless charged with a violent offense.

NFL Legend Anquan Boldin and players Devin and Jason McCourty co-authored an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press on Raise the Age legislation. NFL Legend Anquan Boldin also wrote a letter to the Michigan governor in support of its passage.

The collection of 18 bills, collectively named “Raise the Age for Juvenile Offenders”, passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law on October 31, 2019. The new law will take effect on October 21, 2021.

The bills ensure that anyone under the age of 18 has access to due process that is more responsive to juveniles. Before the new law, Michigan was one of four states that automatically treated all 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. The new law will substantially reduce the number of youths being charged as adults. 

Players Coalition’s Ahmaud Arbery Letter

Requests that the FBI and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division lead the investigation into the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020.

The letter, sent to former Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, was signed by more than 64 current NFL players and NFL Legends, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams, the NFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent, Sr., and quarterback Tom Brady.

Arbery, a Black American, was killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael, both white, in southeast Georgia. Since the Players Coalition’s letter, the FBI has investigated the crime and the defendants have been charged with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Florida Amendment 4

Automatically restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.

Players Coalition members, led by NFL Legend Anquan Boldin, registered new voters and transported voters in underserved areas to the polls. Boldin also helped pen an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel encouraging Floridians to vote “yes” on amendment 4 in the 2018 midterm election.

Lobbying efforts were successful, and the amendment was approved by Florida voters with 60% of the popular vote. Roughly 1.4 million people living in Florida were granted the right to vote.

Before Amendment 4 was approved by Florida voters, Floridians with felony convictions had to wait until a state officer or board restored their voting rights which often took years or never happened.

Louisiana Amendment 2

Requires the unanimous agreement of jurors to convict people charged with felonies on or after January 1, 2019.

On October 6, 2018, Players Coalition member Demario Davis recorded a PSA to encourage Louisiana voters to vote “yes” on amendment 2 in the 2018 midterm election.

The amendment was approved by Louisiana voters and took effect January 1, 2019. Prior to passing the amendment, Louisiana was one of two states that didn’t require a unanimous jury for felony convictions.

Massachusetts Raise the Age Bill (H.1826/S.920)

Ends the automatic prosecution of older adolescents as adults by raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 18- to 20-year-olds.

Players Coalition members Devin and Jason McCourty penned an op-ed for the Boston Herald advocating for the Massachusetts state legislature to pass the bill.

The legislation provides a three-year phase-in period and would move pending cases of defendants who are 18-20 years old to the juvenile justice system, lessening the burden on the state system.

The bill has not been passed by the Massachusetts State Legislature and remains in committee.

Pennsylvania Clean Slate Law (H.B. 1419)

Automatically seals criminal history record information pertaining to eligible criminal and non-conviction records for individuals who have been free from conviction of offenses punishable by a year or more in prison and have completed all court-ordered obligations for 10 years.

The Philadelphia Eagles organization, led by Players Coalition founder Malcolm Jenkins, brought significant national attention to the bill by lobbying the Pennsylvania Legislature, holding an event with the Philadelphia mayor, producing a video and placing op-eds and articles in Sports Illustrated in support of the bill.

The bill was passed, signed into law and took effect in June 2019. Since the law passed, more than 34 million cases have been sealed without the cost of filing petitions in court.

Louisiana House Bill 265

Reduces the amount of time that people on probation and parole for conviction of a felony would have their voting rights suspended and allows these same people to vote if they have not been incarcerated within the last five years.

The Saints' Demario Davis and NFL Legend Ben Watson wrote a letter endorsing Louisiana House Bill 265 to state Senator Karen Carter-Peterson.

The bill was signed into law on May 31, 2018. When the law took effect on March 1, 2019, 2,200 people had their voting rights automatically restored.