Player video preceded Goodell comments on NFL’s change of stance

Michael Thomas of the Saints runs the ball during the NFC Championship Game against the Rams.
Michael Thomas of the Saints runs the ball during the NFC Championship Game against the Rams.

NFL players spoke first.

The video message from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, where he condemns racism and admits the league was wrong in its stance against player protests against police brutality and social injustice, was preceded by a video from several prominent players. According to Yahoo Sports, it was a 'rogue' social media employee who started the league's public change of stance on the Black Lives Matter movement. Bryndon Minter reached out to Saints receiver Michael Thomas via direct message on Wednesday to create content because, according to the Yahoo report, "he was "embarrassed by how the league has been silent this week. The NFL hasn't condemned racism. The NFL hasn't said Black Lives Matter."

Thomas quickly responded and reached out to several other players. A day later, on Thursday night with the help of Minter, Thomas posted the video that also featured several prominent players including Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott with the comment: A message on behalf of the NFL. In part, the players said: “We will not be silenced. We assert our right to peacefully protest. It shouldn’t take this long to admit. 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 systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter.”

 

The video prompted a league meeting on Friday. Hours later, Goodell was recording a message, one in which he nearly repeated the player video verbatim. "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." The video was posted Friday afternoon.

In 2016, players led by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, knelt during the national anthem as a show of protest. Following the death of George Floyd, who was unarmed and died in police custody in Minneapolis two weeks ago, there have been nationwide protests seeking change.

“We didn’t feel like our voices were heard. And that’s what ultimately inspired me to go rogue,” Minter told Yahoo, admitted he was concerned he would lose his job over his role in prompting the video.

Minter did not lose his job. The concerns of players and others went all the way to the top of the league.