NFL Releases “Black Lives Matter” Statement, but Does Not Mention Colin Kaepernick
The statement elicited a mixed reaction from current NFL players
After a week of protesters marching across the country and reactionary police violence against said protesters, the NFL has joined the national conversation about racism. The league dropped a video statement late on Friday that, among other things, it was wrong to not listen to its players about racism prior to this week.
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. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv
— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
The statement was a direct response to the “Stronger Together” video released by NFL players earlier on Friday, in which stars like Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley, and Odell Beckham Jr. called on the league to condemn racism. The league had previously said, on Thursday, that they were committing $20 million to causes that “address systemic racism.”
Notably absent in the Friday evening statement, however, was a mention of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was not been employed by a new team following his decision to protest police brutality and racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem. That absence did not go unnoticed, with Kaepernick’s partner, Nessa Diab, calling the league out on Twitter:
— NESSA (@nessnitty) June 5, 2020
In other spaces, the statement received a mixed reaction, with some, like New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, praising the league and Goodell for speaking out, while others called it just a good first step. The NFL had been having a turbulent week, due to Drew Brees’s poorly-received comments about the anthem and the flag reverberating far beyond the world of football. Thomas was one of the players who called out his quarterback for his remarks, for which Brees has apologized on Instagram.
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