Commissioner expresses support for players who protest
The NFL stands with players who choose to protest racial injustice and police brutality, commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday.
“The NFL stands with the Black community, the players, clubs and fans,” Goodell said in a nine-minute media session after owners met by video conference. “Confronting systemic racism with tangible and productive steps is absolutely essential. We will not relent in our work. We will redouble our efforts to be catalysts for the urgent and sustainable change that our society and communities so desperately need. I’m so proud of everyone across our league and others who have taken a stand using their voices and platforms to continue to shine a spotlight on things that must change. By listening and working and understanding with our players, we’ve built a foundation for tangible change through our Inspired Change Initiative.”
The NFL will join other leagues with social justice messages on its playing surface, writing “End racism” and “It takes all of us” in the end zones at each stadium.
It will allow players to display the names of victims of police violence and/or systemic racism on the padding along the bottom of the backs of their helmets.
The league also will play “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is known as the Black national anthem, before every game.
Goodell took only two questions during his surprise media session, and both were related to COVID-19. But Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, addressed a question about players’ discussions about sitting out games in protest.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said Friday his team wouldn’t have played if they were scheduled this past weekend, and Corey Peters acknowledged the Cardinals have discussed a Week One boycott after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
“Yes, they all have a choice, an individual choice and right to either sit out or protest, however one would characterize it,” Vincent said. “My personal discussions with the players have been many and frankly with the club ownership and coaches, but in particular the players, and it’s really time for us to dig into when we talk about police reform and it’s really around the area of accountability, and how can we leverage from our office — our governmental affairs office. The players want to see us leveraging the influence to hold officers that are bad officers to be held accountable. That access to making the DAs and access to making local officials to truly address reform, training.”