Commissioner Roger Goodell says NFL was wrong for not listening to players earlier on racial injustice

Dozens of athletes kneel during national anthem following President Trump's comments
Posted at 8:24 PM, Jun 05, 2020

NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admits the league was wrong for not listening to its players earlier when they had tried to raise awareness on racial injustice over the last several years.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a video message on social media on Friday speaking on behalf of the league that "black lives matter."

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," Goodell said in the video. "We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter."

Goodell said he will to listen to players across the league on how NFL "can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family."

Goodell's admission comes more than three years after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested the national anthem before games. Kaepernick, who was later joined by then-teammate Eric Reid, kneeled during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season to take a stand against racial injustice and police brutality.

Trump credits his Twitter wrath for Colin Kaepernick's unemployment

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Kaepernick's protest sparked controversy over the course of the 2016 season and following the end of the season, no NFL team has signed the dual-threat quarterback, who is now 32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans had previously kneeled during the national anthem in protest of President Donald Trump.

NFL's admission comes as protesters -- both nationwide and across the Tampa Bay area -- took to the streets for about a wee in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Floyd's death caught the nation's attention after a viral video showed the 46-year-old Minnesota man struggling while in police custody back in late May. The video showed a white police officer, later identified as Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd's neck.

Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder before Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday that Chauvin's charge upgraded to a second-degree murder. He’s also being charged with manslaughter.

The three other officers involved in the deadly incident -- Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane -- are being charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder for their role in Floyd's death.