NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Says League Was ‘Wrong’ on Player Protests Against ‘Systematic Oppression of Black People’

Roger Goodell
AP Photo/David Goldman

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday, on behalf of all 32 teams, that Black Lives Matter and insisted that “we the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to players.”

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said in response to the police involved death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, which has sparked protests and mass rioting and looting across America. “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.”

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Goodell’s statement on behalf of all 32 teams, their owners, and executives is an near-complete about face for the league that went so far as to threaten players with fines should they kneel during the national anthem, which began with ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision in 2016 to (initially sit but then) kneel during the singing of the national anthem.

Goodell’s statement comes after more than a dozen NFL stars, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., came together and sent a passionate video to the league about racial inequality following the death of George Floyd.

Goodell released a statement about Floyd on Saturday. In the league’s statement, the NFL said it was “saddened by the tragic events across” the country. Many players criticized the statement for a lack of specificity.

The NFL released a second statement related to Floyd’s death before the players’ video was published Thursday night.

“This is a time of self-reflection for all — the NFL is no exception,” the NFL said. “We stand with the black community because black lives matter.”

The league also pledged to donate $20 million to support programs and initiatives around the country that “address systemic racism.”

UPI contributed to this story. 


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