NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says league was wrong for not listening to players earlier about racism

Goodell posted a video on NFL social media on Friday in response to the video “Stronger Together”, which features several of the most famous players in the league, asking the league to take a firm stand on the death by George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of blacks,” said Goodell. “We the National Football League admit that we were wrong not to have listened to the NFL players earlier and encourage everyone to speak out and protest peacefully,” said Goodell.

Goodell noted that the period had been difficult for the country, especially black Americans, and offered condolences to the families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and “all families who have suffered police brutality”.

“Without black players, there would be no National Football League,” said Goodell. “And the protests across the country are emblematic of centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, supporters and staff.”

Goodell said he would reach out to players and others who have spoken out on these issues to see “how we can improve and move forward for a better and more united NFL family.”

The NFL star video was released on Thursday and featured the following players: Davante Adams, Jamal Adams, Saquon Barkley, Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliott, Stephon Gilmore, DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Kendricks, Jarvis Landry , Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson and Chase Young.

In the video, the players, speaking in unison, say, “So on behalf of the National Football League, this is what we players would like to hear from you. We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systemic oppression of blacks. We the National Football League admit that we have silenced our players to protest peacefully. We the National Football League believe that the lives of blacks are important. “

Racism has been a persistent problem in the NFL, particularly after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to kneel before games while the national anthem played to protest the police brutality.

No team has offered Kaepernick a contract since 2017, which many attribute to their protests. Kaepernick accused the owners of the NFL team of collusion to prevent it from being signed. The NFL denied any collusion, but in 2019 they made a deal with Kaepernick and former teammate Eric Reid, who knelt with him.
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Goodell’s response comes after a nearly year-long partnership with Roc Nation from Jay-Z. The partnership created The Responsibility Program, an initiative that provides scholarships to families affected by injustice in the United States. The program created several public service announcements that were published, one of which featured Meek Mill and the Dreamchasers.

A spokesperson for the NFL Inspire Change program told CNN that a Legacy Grant Program had recently been launched and that three grants had already been awarded to families of victims of police violence: Botham Jean, Antwon Rose II and Danroy “DJ” Henry.

Goodell’s response also comes after Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he “would never agree with anyone who disrespects the flag.” Brees made the comment when asked for his opinion on the kneeling players to protest police brutality once the NFL season begins this fall.

He has since apologized for his “insensitive” comments after receiving criticism from his own teammates and other athletes.

CNN’s Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

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