NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a video statement on Friday saying “we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier” who were protesting police brutality. The statement comes amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, but also years of controversy when the NFL refused to support Colin Kaepernick and other players who knelt in protest over police brutality.
In the roughly minute-and-a-half statement, Goodell did not mention Kaepernick by name but he said the NFL will “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.” Goodell said he would be “reaching out” to players who have “raised their voices.”
“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,” Goodell said.
Goodell’s statement comes one day after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized for saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States.” Brees issued an apology after receiving backlash from fellow players and fans for his original comments, but his apology sparked criticism from President Trump.
“I am a big fan of Drew Brees,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high… We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”
Running back Adrian Peterson has already said he will be kneeling when the NFL season starts in September. “Years ago, seeing (Colin) Kaepernick taking a knee, now we’re all ready to take a knee together going into this season without a doubt,” Peterson said while distributing food packages in the Houston area, The Houston Chronicle reported.