The NFL heard players' calls.
On Friday, league commissioner Roger Goodell released a video statement on behalf of the NFL in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"It has been a difficult time for our country, in particular black people in our country," Goodell began. "First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality," Goodell said. "We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. 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. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter."
He continued: "I personally protest with you and want to be a 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."
The video comes just a day after star NFL athletes like Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliott, DeAndre Hopkins, and Patrick Mahomes pressured the league to publicly "condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people ... admit wrong in silencing [its] players for peacefully protesting," and state, "we believe black lives matter."
Goodell's statement was met with mixed reactions. While some praised the commissioner and the NFL for the move, others dismissed it as a PR stunt. A number of Twitter users then demanded that the league exclusively apologize to former 49er Colin Kaepernick and put him back in the field. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season when he began conducting on-field protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
You can read some of the reactions to Goodell's video below.
Apologize to Kaepernick and give him his career back. Until then, this is lip service.— CC 🗽 (@CCoceans311) June 5, 2020
Admit you blackballed Kaepernick. Don't ever do anything like that again. Encourage teams to give him legit tryouts. If he can play at the level, fine. He can't be any worse than certain teams' backups.— L J Platt (@ljordanplatt) June 5, 2020
Say his name.— JenJen❤️StaysHome (@ColoJen) June 5, 2020
This didn’t go far enough.
THIS is what systemic racism is.
The NFL making a statement to make themselves “look better”.
No. They need to DO BETTER.
The NFL let politics and a president make decisions for them out of FEAR.
Say his name.
Grateful for this statement. To admit you were wrong is a great first step. Hiring @Kaepernick7 is the next right step. He will be the leader you need to show you the way forward. Until our flag represents ALL Americans we all need to take a knee. #NoJusticeNoPeace pic.twitter.com/fN5wdQ2CUZ— Jamie McLaughlin (@jamiemc13) June 5, 2020