Thu, 01 Oct 2020

Goodell: NFL was wrong for not listening to players' concerns

Field Level Media
06 Jun 2020, 10:19 GMT+10

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that the league was wrong for not listening to players and their concerns about social justice and racism.

Goodell released the video on Friday, nearly 24 hours after a group of NFL players requested the NFL take strong action in the wake of the death ofGeorge Floyd in Minneapolis.

Social injustice has been a major source of tension in the NFL since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling before games during the 2016 season to bring attention to police brutality. Kaepernick hasn't played in an NFL game since that campaign.

Goodell didn't mention Kaepernick in Friday's video but acknowledged that the NFL didn't take concerns of the players in a serious manner.

"It has been a difficult time for our country, in particular, black people in our country," Goodell began in a video. "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.

"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.

"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.

"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."

A total of 18 players, including quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, wide receiver Michael Thomas and defensive end Chase Young, the No. 2 pick of the recent NFL draft, participated in a 71-second video released Thursday called "Stronger Together."

Thomas, the star receiver of the New Orleans Saints, opened the video by saying, "It's been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered," before players later took turns saying, "What if I was George Floyd?"

Later, the players spoke in unison: "So on behalf of the National Football League, this is what we the players would like to hear you state. We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter."

The NFL's social-justice troubles reached a peak early in the 2017 season when President Donald Trump called for owners to get any "son of a bitch" off the field who didn't stand for the anthem. In October 2017, Vice President Mike Pence departed an Indianapolis Colts game against the 49ers when he saw players protesting during the national anthem.

Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes in an incident caught on cell phones. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter.

Three other officers -- Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao -- were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting both a second-degree murder and a second-degree manslaughter.

--Field Level Media

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