Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday the league will use its 2020 season to spotlight the need for “tangible change” to combat systematic racism in the United States.
The Associated Press provided Goodell’s comments in the wake of recent Black Lives Matter protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin:
“The NFL stands with the Black community, the players, clubs and fans. Confronting recent systemic racism with tangible and productive steps is absolutely essential. We will not relent in our work. We will redouble our efforts to be catalysts for the urgent and sustainable change that our society and communities so desperately need. I’m so proud of everyone across our league and others who have taken a stand using their voices and platforms to continue to shine the spotlight on things that must change. By listening and working and understanding with our players, we built the foundation for tangible change through our Inspire Change initiative.”
Goodell’s remarks came as the NFL announced that end zones for the upcoming campaign will feature one of two slogans: “It Takes All Of Us” and “End Racism.”
In June, the NFL announced a $250 million commitment over the next 10 years to “combat systemic racism and support the battle against injustices faced by African Americans.”
Goodell also confirmed in a recent interview with Fox Sports’ Emmanuel Acho the league would “support” any player who decides to protest by taking a knee during the national anthem this season, noting they wouldn’t face any punishment for the decision.
The NFL struggled to handle the initial wave of protests started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 amid pressure from President Donald Trump, who has long mischaracterized the protests as negative toward the military and the American flag.
Troy Vincent, a former Pro Bowl cornerback and the league’s current executive vice president of football operations, said he’s happy Goodell and the owners have joined them in the fight for equality, according to the AP:
“I ask my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to allow me to be a bridge-builder. And I try to stay on the premises of educating—whether that’s a player or a club owner. I just speak to humanity. And I would say in my dealings with club owners, they all have a heart. … I do believe that some of the things that we have seen transpire, they have seen transpire. It does something to the heart. And we understand we’re not asking—the players are not asking—for anything out of context and just asking for accountability to be administered and that people see this burden that many live, that an entire community, in particular the Black community, that these injustices are happening.
“I do believe that the club owners are at a place over the last few years; it’s taken some a little longer than others, but it becomes a heart issue. And they do have an appreciation for humanity, and they understand that we have to do this together. The players can’t do it alone. The players understand that they can’t do without club owners. Club owners understand that it takes all of us to get to where we want to get as a better society.”
Vincent also noted players are being given the freedom to sit out games to protest as they see fit.
The 2020 NFL season is scheduled to kick off next Thursday when the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium.
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