On Thursday, Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and several other National Football League demanded that the league issue a more detailed response to racial injustice.
“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” the players stated in the video above, posted to their social media channels. “How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players? What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality? What if I was George Floyd?”
The players called on the league to “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.” They also demanded that the NFL “admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting”—an apparent reference to how the league handled Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem to call attention to racial inequities. The former 49ers quarterback has not been picked up by an NFL team since the 2016-17 season.
Immediately following the video's release, Ad Age asked for comment, and a league spokesman pointed to an Instagram post that went live before the players video, in which the NFL stated: “This is a time of self-reflection for all—the NFL is no exception. We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter.” The post also references $44 million in donations the league has given to “hundreds of worthy organizations,” adding “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.”
Late yesterday, however, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared in a video in which he admitted the NFL was "wrong" in the way it originally responded to players' protests against police brutality. Seen below, it responds directly to the players' demands with the following statement: "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."
The statement now raises a number of questions, like whether it will be now OK for players to kneel during the national anthem and if Colin Kaepernick, who became the prominent face of Nike's "Dream Crazy" campaign for taking a stand, will now have a chance to return to the NFL.