Roger Goodell on Colin Kaepernick: “I Wish We Had Listened Earlier”

The NFL commissioner appeared on Emmanuel Acho's "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man"

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions. (B51/Mark Brown/Getty)
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Appearing on an installment of former NFL player Emmanuel Acho’s Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man video series, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he regrets that his league did not listen to Colin Kaepernick’s message about social justice sooner.

“The first thing I’d say is I’d wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” Goodell said.

Goodell, who did not mention Kaepernick by name in a June statement in which he admitted the NFL should have listened to its players sooner about systematic racism, also said player protests are “not about the flag.”

“The message here, what our players are doing, is being mischaracterized,” he said. “These are not people who are unpatriotic. They’re not disloyal. They’re not against our military. In fact, many of those guys were in the military, and they are a military family. What they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed, and that misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me.”

It seems likely that when the NFL season begins in less than three weeks, players will kneel during the national anthem and engage in other forms of on-field activism in order to call attention to racial inequality and social injustice in the United States.

Some NFL players believe that, if they kneel, Goodell may actually take part as well.

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