NFL players are asking, “What if I were George Floyd?”
On Thursday, football stars, including Patrick Mahomes and Odell Beckham Jr., released a video showing their support for the Black Lives Matter protests and calling on the NFL to do better.
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— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) June 5, 2020
“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” the players say. “How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?”
The video continues, posing the questions, “What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality?”
After naming Floyd and other Black people killed by police in recent years, the players state, “I will not be silenced. We assert our rights to peacefully protest. It shouldn’t take this long to admit.”
They then follow up with a statement directly addressing the NFL.
“This is what we, the players, would like to here you state: We, the National Football League, condemn and the systematic oppression of Black people. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter.”
In a social media post on Thursday, the NFL showed support for the protests, saying, “We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter.”
The statement added, “To date we have donated $44 million to support hundreds of worthy organizations. This year, we are committing an additional $20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work. We know that we can and need to do more.”
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This is a time of self-reflection for all – the NFL is no exception. We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter. Through Inspire Change, the NFL, Players and our partners have supported programs and initiatives throughout the country to address systemic racism. We will continue using our platform to challenge the injustice around us. To date we have donated $44 million to support hundreds of worthy organizations. This year, we are committing an additional $20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work. We know that we can and need to do more.
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell then admitted that they were wrong for how they dealt with the protests that started with former player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. However, many people pointed out that Goodell never names Kaepernick or formally apologizes to him.
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
Since 2017, Kaepernick has not been signed to a contract with any NFL team, which many see as a result of his protest. In 2019, despite denying any collusion to keep him from being signed, the league reached a settlement with Kaepernick, as well as fellow player and protester Eric Reid.
Earlier this week, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” when asked about Kaepernick’s protest, later apologizing for “insensitive” comments after receiving public criticism.
Benjamin Watson, former New England Patriots teammate, said the statement was a good first step but the NFL now needs to show actual change.
“Great statement, we applaud it… Now let’s go to the next step in action and let’s see the proof when we look at NFL clubs now moving forward,” he told CNN.
Fmr. NFL player @BenjaminSWatson calls the commissioner's statement condemning racism a good first step but he awaits actual change.
"Great statement, we applaud it… Now let's go to the next step in action and let's see the proof when we look at NFL clubs now moving forward." pic.twitter.com/X9pynqy207
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) June 6, 2020
A number of people have responded on Twitter to both the original video and Goodell’s admission.
I retired from the @nfl 23 years ago. The league has always been racist, but back then you ignored degrading treatment to improve the conditions of your family. I thought it was all I had. Now I know better- and these men do too. I love you guys. https://t.co/54XYUUASkE
— terry crews (@terrycrews) June 7, 2020
NFL: Do The Right Thing by this man. pic.twitter.com/FSfhMULdQ4
— Ice Cube (@icecube) June 5, 2020
I hope NFL players see they always had the power they just were afraid or didn't care enough to use it. League can't function without them
— Robert Littal (@BSO) June 5, 2020
The NFL should formally apologize to Colin Kaepernick.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) June 5, 2020
Roger Goodell's video is a direct reply to this incredibly powerful statement from some of the NFL's top players. Four years after Colin Kaepernick took a knee against injustice, the players are finally being heard. Now we'll see if the NFL and its teams actually change. pic.twitter.com/Fzee02bScZ
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 5, 2020
SO important for players to realize their power. Yesterday's video from some of the league's stars is the reason the NFL addressed this & outright said that they're wrong. Acknowledgment is important. SO much more to be done, but alot can be accomplished when players speak as one https://t.co/4sdg2UD2UO
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) June 5, 2020
Taking a knee is very American. 👍🇺🇸
— Andrew Yang🧢🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) June 5, 2020
I PEACEFULLY protested police brutality & the murders of Tamir Rice & John Crawford during an @NFL game.
I was met with death threats.
One of the ONLY fellow players to ever reach out in support of that protest was @Kaepernick7.
I was right
He was right
WE were right. pic.twitter.com/QPw4xwXGZz
— Andrew Hawkins (@Hawk) June 5, 2020
Well said Roger ✊🏾 https://t.co/IwqNZKGcY0
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 5, 2020
All these @NFL teams came out the woodwork to say they stand for black lives matter and racial inequality…. I tell you @Kaepernick7 better be on a team next season if he wants to play no excuses now.
— kuz (@kylekuzma) June 6, 2020
Something EXTRAORDINARY is happening.
We’re seeing white people say #BLACKLIVESMATTER.
The NFL is letting players say #BLACKLIVESMATTER.
We can pass bipartisan bills THIS YEAR to FINALLY reform policing in this country #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/9avJXrcMLA
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) June 6, 2020