The NFL players demanded to be heard and the league listened and responded.
The NFL’s social media accounts posted video of Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday after more than a dozen players – included the Giants’ Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, the Jets’ Jamal Adams and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes — asked the NFL to admit its mistakes, condemn systemic racism and do more in the fight the against racial equality in a video released Thursday.
Goodell wanted the players to know he heard them, and delivered nearly word-for-word on what the players asked.
“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” he said in the video. “We, the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter.”
Goodell called it “a difficult time for our country, in particular, Black people in our country” before sending his condolence to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery who have endured police brutality.
He added that he personally protests with the players and wants “to be part of the much-needed change in this country.” Goodell noted that without black players there would be no NFL and the protests around the country are “emblematic the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.”
It is unclear what Goodell’s statement will mean as far as players potentially kneeling during the national anthem again this season.
“We are listening, I am listening and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward,” Goodell said.
It might not be perfect – the players asked for admission of wrong in “silencing our players from peacefully protesting” – but it is a big step from the years of the league not giving an inch after Colin Kaepernick and others began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest social injustice.
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