NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier” who were protesting police brutality, a visible shift in the league’s previous stance on social injustice, peaceful protests, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Goodell’s statement came in response to a video released Thursday featuring several high-profile players including New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes urging the NFL to condemn racism. The video was put together by a group of NFL league staffers, including NFL social video producer Bryndon Minter, who went rogue and recruited players to put it together after being dissatisfied with the NFL’s lackluster response to social injustices.
“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter,” Goodell said. However, as critics pointed out, Goodell did not mention Colin Kaepernick directly in his statement.
After drawing ire for saying players shouldn’t disrespect the flag by kneeling, Drew Brees apologized after multiple players spoke out criticizing his stance. President Donald Trump then criticized Brees, saying he should not have changed his stance, which Brees rebuked.
“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been,” Brees posted on Instagram. “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”