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As Election Day Beckons, Cardinals Stress Importance Of Voting

Players receiving Tuesday off as part of league's 'NFL Votes' initiative

S Budda Baker (32) collects imaginary ballots from his teammates after his interception on Sunday.
S Budda Baker (32) collects imaginary ballots from his teammates after his interception on Sunday.

Patrick Peterson has been the king of choregraphed turnover celebrations for the Cardinals defense this season.

In Week 6 against the Cowboys, it was the bowling idea. Last Sunday against Seattle, the veteran cornerback yanked Budda Baker into the end zone so the Pro Bowl safety could accept imaginary ballots from a line of teammates.

"Everybody votes!" Peterson yelled after Baker’s interception and long return.

On Tuesday, the Cardinals and the NFL are hoping large swaths of people mimic the celebration with true civic engagement.

From public service announcements to opening up stadiums as polling sites, there has been a concerted effort by the league, teams and the NFL Players' Association to increase voting around the country on Election Day.

There has also been a special emphasis on the players, who will have Tuesday off so they can go to the polls.

"It doesn't matter who you vote for, but we all have to vote as citizens," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "That's our right. That's our role as citizens in this country. It's important to vote, and it's huge for our team and league to promote that for our guys. Most citizens don't vote. It's not what we grew up doing, most of us. I think it's important that we understand the importance of voting. The outcome, obviously, it depends on voting. So if you want a voice in this country and you want change – on either side – you have to go vote for it."

Young voters are generally apathetic, so the Cardinals have made it a point to educate their players as part of the NFL Votes campaign that began in August. According to the NFL and NFLPA, 90 percent of active players are registered to vote.

"I don't want to say this is the first time we've really talked about the importance of voting... but it's certainly been a stronger push now," defensive tackle Corey Peters said. "I think a lot of the guys who weren't previously registered are now registered, and maybe this is going to be the first election they vote in. I'm just excited for more people to get involved in the process, so you can educate yourself and really have an understanding of why things are the way that they are."

After a strife-filled year headlined by racial tensions and COVID-19, left tackle D.J. Humphries speaks for many when he says this election feels like it has a heightened sense of importance.

"My first opportunity that I had to vote, I did a North Carolina mail-in ballot when I was in college," Humphries said. "It didn't mean as much to me then. Obviously I was still young, 18 years old, so it was a little different. This time around, it definitely feels imperative to make sure that I vote and I make sure that everyone around me is voting – holding them accountable even if they don't want to vote. Getting them in the polls and getting them educated on the options, and what are the stances.

"This year, it definitely seems like everyone across the world seems to be eager. I saw a stat the other day that was showing the numbers, and voters 18-to-24 had almost tripled or quadrupled over the last four years. It's impressive to see how everyone is taking to the polls and taking it seriously."

During the summer months, in the wake of George Floyd's death, Humphries spoke passionately about the need for change, both in the justice system and the private sector.

He was one of many Black players on the Cardinals who vocalized their opinions during that time, and outside linebacker Haason Reddick believes Election Day is a good way to kickstart reform.

"It's wild times, man," Reddick said. "It's crazy. The world and the U.S. is in a wild state right now, with everything that's going on. I do think it's time for a change, and it has to start with voting. I encourage people to get out there and vote so we can get the change that, for the most part, we know that we need."

Images from the "Sunday Night Football overtime victory at State Farm Stadium.

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