Reiterating a theme that he previously touched on this offseason, Roger Goodell says that he wished the NFL had listened to Colin Kaepernick earlier, when the now-ex-quarterback was kneeling in protest back in 2016. Goodell's most recent comments on this subject came up while talking to former NFL player Emmanuel Acho for Acho's video series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.
For expanded context, they were preceded by Acho acknowledging the earlier statement Goodell put out (more on that below) while saying that an apology for "the catalyst for it all" was absent from that statement. Acho then asked how the NFL commish would word an apology to Kaepernick if he were to actually give one.
What came next were words that were chosen carefully, though that seemed to be the case throughout the sit-down (you may have picked up on the awkward wording in the preceding paragraph).
"Well the first thing I'd say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to," the commissioner said. "We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did. We would've benefited from it, absolutely."
The relevant portion begins around the 4:00 mark and, if you're looking to get straight to the point, around 4:35.
Now, as you can see if you watch the full clip, the subject came up after Acho brought up a statement which was put out by Goodell in June. In that previous announcement, Goodell said in part, "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.
"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."
You can also watch that here: