The NFL just released a statement condemning racism and police brutality, and encouraging peaceful protest. The statement marks a major shift from the leagues historic stance on the matter, but it didn’t come without prompting from Black players.
The league’s June 5 statement came one day after Black NFL players released a video calling the NFL to condemn racism and police violence. The video was the idea of NFL social employee Bryndon Minter, who Yahoo calls the “rogue” employee who forced the NFL into new Black Lives Matter stance. Minter reached out the Saints receiver Michael Thomas with the idea, and Thomas then recruited other Black players to participate.
The video of Black players coming together to demand the NFL’s support quickly went viral on social media.
“A message on behalf of the nfl” pic.twitter.com/iilDpnZfyV
The NFL’s subsequent tweet, which directly echoes the statement Black players asked the NFL to make in their callout video, reads: “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.”
In an accompanying video statement by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Goodell says, “Without Black players, there would be no National Football League…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.”
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
Many of the Black players who participated in the original callout video have not publicly responded to the statement. Fan comments on the post, however, overwhelmingly call the league to directly apologize to Colin Kaepernick, who was allegedly shut out of the league for continuously kneeling during the national anthem at games in protest of police brutality. Kaepernick has also not responded to the NFL’s statement.
The NFL’s new statement is a radical shift in the league’s views, coming after years of condemning players who knelt during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racism. The protest, started by Kaepernick in 2016, gained momentum amongst players even after Kaepernick was allegedly shut out of the league that same year. In 2018, league officials threatened to fine players who protested by kneeling during the anthem.
On June 5, the league also posted on Instagram a pledge to donate an additional $20 million to social justice organizations through Inspired Change, an NFL initiative that has given $44 million to social justice charities since 2018.
The Instagram pledge ended with the statement, “We know that we can and need to do more.”
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