The National Football League, just a little more than a week away from its championship game, announced that it has officially established an owner-player “social justice committee” designed to create a “dialogue” that will help the league better address issues of race relations.
The announcement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference, is “just the start” of building a greater awareness of — and dialogue around — political issues at every level of the league.
“We feel that we are going to make significant progress as we have more meetings, as we get more focused on our efforts, it’s going to actually come to life,” Goodell said. “And frankly, we will get better as the days go by.”
The committee will reportedly “focus on education, economic development, community and police relations and the criminal justice system,” and they’ve already begun work on a kickoff initiative called “Let’s Listen Together,” which will utilize social media to highlight players’ work on “equality issues” off the field.
The owner-player committee is the first tangible effect of a kneeling campaign, started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, designed to bring awareness to racial issues. The effort gained steam after President Donald Trump criticized kneeling players, but ended up having a disastrous effect on the NFL, as ticket sales slumped and television viewership tanked.
But instead of calming the waters, the NFL has decided to fully embrace the “social justice” aspect of the game, and even previously considered establishing a fund for social justice efforts — a plan that hit a snag when players in a focus group revealed that money would be redirected to that fund from already existing accounts serving breast cancer and veterans’ charities (that plan remains on the drawing board, however).