NFL and Players Reach Agreement Over Social Justice Donations

The $89 million plan is the latest turn in the turbulent relationship between owners and players.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (L) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in happier times. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

In the ongoing battle over players’ right to kneel during the national anthem and the league’s reputation at large, the NFL will donate $89 million to a variety of racial justice causes over the next seven years, according to ESPN. Commissioner Roger Goodell came to the agreement with a coalition of roughly 40 players led by the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin. ESPN had reported earlier on Wednesday that the deal was at risk of falling apart.

Although there’s no explicit language regarding protests in the agreement, Goodell and the owners he represents hope that the agreement will be seen as an act of good faith and discourage players from kneeling during the anthem, according to ESPN. Goodell came to the agreement with the goal of diminishing future protests for the sake of the NFL’s decreased ratings, which the largely league blame on the protests, and concerned advertisers.

For the players, the agreement forces the NFL to invest in issues ranging from education to police brutality. Over the next seven years, 50 percent of the money will go toward the Players Coalition, a recently-chartered non-profit created for the players to allocate money to organizations as they see fit. The other half of the money will be split evenly between the United Negro College Fund and Dream Corps.

The agreement calls for owners to increase their donation annually until it reaches $12 million in 2021-2023. In each NFL city, owners and the team’s players as a group are expected to each donate $250,000 every year. The commitment marks the NFL’s largest donation in its history.

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