NFL Still Spending Millions on Social Justice Initiatives

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 05: The helmet of D.J. Wonnum #98 of the Minnesota Vikings wi
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The National Football League (NFL) has not cut back on its social justice spending initiatives despite the harm it has done to its brand in recent years.

In 2020, when Black Lives Matter (BLM) mandates reached national consciousness in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, the NFL said that it would commit $250 million over a 10-year period in the service of combatting “systemic racism and support the battle against injustices faced by African Americans.” This occurred after former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick enacted the Take a Knee campaign to protest police brutality during the National Anthem.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the work Colin and other players have led off,” a league source said at the time. “That is a key point here. We listened to our players. We needed to listen more, we needed to move faster. We heard them and launched a social justice platform because of what Colin was protesting about.”

Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick, and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to their NFL game against...

Eli Harold #58, Colin Kaepernick #7, and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem before their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium on October 6, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

“The players have always been an essential piece of this effort and this campaign. It would be awesome to engage Colin on some of the work we are doing. He’s doing real impactful work. Getting him in some way would be amazing for us. There’s a lot of work to do to get to that point. We’re certainly open and willing to do that,” the source added.

Prior to its 10-year commitment, the NFL launched its Inspire Change program in 2018 and accelerated its proposed spending in the wake of George Floyd’s murder as protests and riots rocked the nation. In January 2021, less than a year after the $250 million proposal had been announced, the NFL had given over $95 million in the service of social justice initiatives. Per

The NFL today announced 13 new grants to nonprofit organizations across the country and additional funding to support closing the “digital divide” as part of its social justice initiative, Inspire Change. The league and its clubs have provided more than $95 million to date in support of programs focused on education, economic advancement, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform, encouraging unity and respect in our communities. These efforts contribute to the ten-year $250 million commitment by the NFL to social justice.

Inspire Change launched during the 2018 season, showcasing the collaborative efforts of players, clubs, and the league to create positive change in communities across the country. Unanimously approved by the Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group, the 13 new grants total nearly $4.3 million and come in addition to the 20 organizations awarded funding over the last three years.

Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons Owner and Chairman and member of the Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group, said that the league will continue to “support the march against social injustice.”

Former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens leads a protest march in support of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose knee-taking protests against police...

Former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens leads a protest march in support of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose knee-taking protests against police brutality sparked a national conversation, in Inglewood on Thursday, July 11. 2020. (Sarah Reingewirtz/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

“This past year opened the eyes of so many to the inequality suffered by many of our fellow brothers and sisters, neighbors and associates. We will continue to stand with our players as we address underlying issues and bring people together to achieve meaningful, positive change,” said Blank.

Not all the causes addressed had a political bent, such as when the NFL sought to close the “digital divide” during the coronavirus pandemic by helping bring the internet and technology to underserved communities for the sake of education. However, the causes that did have political motivations inarguably leaned left. As Fox Business reported in December 2021, Inspire Change had gone so far as to finance “Defund the Police” initiatives.

“Groups who have received funds as part of “Inspire Change,” the NFL’s social justice initiative, include the Vera Institute of Justice, the Oregon Justice Resource Center and the Community Justice Exchange. All three of those groups support defunding or abolishing the police, a review of their public statements shows,” FBN noted.


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