NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is defending the $90 million the league is earmarking for so-called “social justice” causes, in an agreement made to placate the dozens of players who have been protesting against the country during the playing of the national anthem.
“We have a unique opportunity here for NFL players and for NFL owners to work together,” Goodell said. “This is a result of unprecedented dialogue and cooperation between NFL players, ownership and our office over the last year.”
Despite the spending agreement, Goodell was unable to elicit a vow from the players to stop their anti-American protests, something that one of the players involved in the negotiations took pains to point out in an interview with NBC Sports.
“This deal for us was never about telling guys what they can or can’t do. It was never about telling guys that they can’t protest or to stop protesting. This agreement was the NFL listening to the concerns of its players and responding in a like matter,” retired Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin told NBC Sports.
Fellow negotiator, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, added, “We want to take money out of sending people to jail and put it toward education and opportunities for economic advancement.”
But critics have attacked the NFL’s agreement saying it does nothing to stop the protests nor does it put a dent in the increasing feeling among fans that pro football is now synonymous with anti-Americanism.
Jim Hanson, the president of Security Studies Group and a Green Bay Packers stockholder, recently wrote an editorial for Fox News in which he slammed Goodell’s agreement with the group of players.
“…the owners will get nothing from the players in return. No promise to stop disrespecting the national anthem or any other meaningful concessions,” wrote Hanson, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Making matters worse for the NFL from a public relations standpoint, not only does their agreement with the players not include a requirement for the protests to end. But, according to anthem-protester Eric Reid, the money that the league has earmarked for social justice causes will be money taken from current NFL initiatives such as Salute to Service and breast cancer awareness.
So, in the ultimate proof that the anthem protests do have an impact on the military, or at least respect for the military. The league will, reportedly, greatly reduce its commitment to celebrating the service of the heroes who defend this country in order to placate anthem protesters.
Los Angeles Chargers tackle Russell Okung also criticized the agreement, but not because of the spending. Okung called the agreement “a farce” because former NFL player and national anthem protest inventor Colin Kaepernick has still not been signed to play this season.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.