Full Article On Forbes.com
Two years after the NFL took a hardline stance to stop players from kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a remarkable apology Friday, saying in a video message, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
Following more than a week of protests over police brutality toward minorities touched off by the death of George Floyd, Goodell said the league condemned racism, and he pledged to work with players to determine how the league should move forward.
Goodell added, “I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League.”
It’s a remarkable reversal for the league, which in 2018 announced that teams would be fined if players knelt during the playing of the anthem to protest racial injustice, claiming at the time, that “protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.”
Goodell’s video comes a day after more than a dozen NFL stars took to social media to send a passionate message to the league about racial inequality.
Patrick Mahomes, Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas were among the players who took part in the 70-second video released Thursday night.
In closing, the players declare, “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.”
On Wednesday, Saints QB Drew Brees made headlines when he asserted he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America,” when asked about fellow players potentially kneeling during the upcoming 2020 NFL season. A day later, after significant backlash from NFL players and athletes throughout the country, Brees issued an apology via Instagram. “In an attempt to talk about respect, unity and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem,” Brees said, “I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country.”