On Friday, the NFL’s official Twitter account released a video from league Commissioner Roger Goodell in which he addresses the ongoing protests and apologizes for the NFL’s prior position.
“It has been a difficult time for our country, in particular black people in our country,” Goodell begins. “First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality.”
“We, the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” he continues. “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.”
“I personally protest with you, and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country,” Goodell states.
The commissioner then notes that “without black players, there would be no National Football League, and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of black players, coaches, fans, and staff.”
Lastly, Goodell issues a promise to “improve.”
“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 for a better and more united NFL family,” he concludes.
We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv
— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
As of publication, the video has been viewed millions of times.
Some of the responses to the video have been less than positive, with numerous commenters calling on Goodell to apologize directly to former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick and “say his name.”
“Directly apologize to Colin Kaepernick and reinstate him,” wrote @ProfMattBeckman.
@admiralmpj tweeted: “Glad you said this. It was well said, and well overdue. I’m still not coming back. I can’t. I’m sorry. Apology accepted, but trust has to be earned. And it hasn’t been earned back yet.”
Comedian Gabe Gonzalez wrote: “Look, sweetie – I only pay attention to your league once a year & even I know you’ve got to do better here. 1) Apologize to the Black players you demonized for peacefully protesting. 2) DONATE to communities & causes of THEIR choosing.”
In August of 2016, then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the playing of the national anthem prior to a preseason game.
Following the game, he told NFL Media:
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
Kaepernick later spoke with reporters and offered multiple answers regarding his reasoning for sitting during the national anthem, which later evolved into kneeling.
The NFL issued a statement: “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
Over the course of the next approximately three and a half years, the drama regarding national anthem protests by athletes unfolded. Recently, the issue has come up again in light of the ongoing demonstrations and riots following the killing of 46-year-old African American man George Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground.
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