NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke out Friday evening in support of African Americans and protests against systemic racism in the U.S.
In a video message posted on the NFL’s official Twitter page, Goodell acknowledged the difficult time African Americans are facing in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black people by police.
“It has been a difficult time for our country, in particular, black people in our country. First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmuad Arbery and all the families, who have endured police brutality,” Goodell said.
He continued, “We, the National Football League, admit that 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 wanted 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. We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”
Goodell’s video statement came hours after more than a dozen NFL players came together to call on the league to denounce racism and systemic oppression, as well as admit wrong in its efforts to keep players from silently protesting, such as in the form of kneeling during the national anthem, most notably by Colin Kaepernick.
Since 2017, no team has offered Kaepernick a contract, which has been attributed to his protests. He’s accused NFL team owners of colluding to keep him from being signed -- a claim the league has denied.
In 2019, Kaepernick and former teammate Eric Reid, who also knelt in protest, settled their collusion grievance cases against the NFL.
Participating athletes included Davante Adams, Jamal Adams, Saquon Barkley, Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham, Ezekiel Elliott, Stephon Gilmore, DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Kendricks, Jarvis Landry, Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson and Chase Young.
"We will not be silenced. We assert our right to peacefully protest,” players said. “It shouldn't take this long to admit.”
Goodell specifically said the statement the players called on him to state in their video.
“So on behalf of the National Football League, this is what we the players would like to hear you state: We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people,” the players said in unison in the video. “We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”