When the Atlanta Falcons take the field for their Week 1 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, the team will pay tribute to the late John Lewis by making him an honorary captain, head coach Dan Quinn announced on Friday.
"That's a big deal in terms of the exposure and the impact Congressman Lewis had not just on Georgia but on the country overall,'' Quinn said.
Atlanta will also place a jersey with Lewis' name at the 50-yard line and observe a moment of silence for Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian following player introductions.
The longtime congressman and civil rights leader died at the age of 80 on July 17 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. Lewis was a prominent figure of the Civil Rights movement and was part of the historic march on Selma, Ala., in 1965.
During his time fighting for equality, Lewis left an impact on the entire country but played a major role in Georgia and other areas in the southern region of the country. Lewis was a representative from Georgia's fifth congressional district from 1987 to 2020.
The gesture by the Falcons falls in the line with the overall message of equality and social justice the team and others around the NFL are working to share this season. Specifically, Lewis was a major proponent of voting rights, something Atlanta players have been working to bring more attention to.
"We know John Lewis is a big part and a big reason that [Voting Rights Act] is part of the world today," Falcons safety Ricard Allen said. "So to be able to tie that in with our team and be able to do it with such a great man like John Lewis -- someone that I've been blessed enough to go down and do the Selma walk with myself -- you know I was all-in for it with him."
Players and coaches will also wear decals on their helmets and hats in support of social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the season.