NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Says He Wished He’d ‘Listened Earlier’ To Colin Kaepernick
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has admitted he should have ‘listened earlier’ to Colin Kaepernick’s stand against racism.
The Black Lives Matter movement became notably prevalent following the death of George Floyd in May, but the fight against racism has been going on for centuries, and Kaepernick made headlines in 2016 for publicly joining the protest.
At the time, Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem was considered controversial and cost him his position as an NFL player. Now, however, the entire NFL has shown solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, and Goodell is expressing his regret for the initial response towards Kaepernick.
You can listen to Goodell’s comments below:
During an interview with former linebacker and commentator Emmanuel Acho, titled Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man: The National Anthem Protest, Goodell was asked what he would say in an apology to Kaepernick now, when the fight against racism isn’t considered controversial, but necessary.
Well the first thing I’d say is, ‘I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to’.
The commissioner went on to say the league had ‘invited [Kaepernick] in several times to have the conversation,’ but said that they ‘never did’ have that talk. Goodell did not offer an explanation as to why the meeting hadn’t happened.
Kaepernick hasn’t played for the NFL since 2016, and the organisation largely remained silent on the matter in the last four years, but that began to change with the national unrest that followed the death of Floyd.
In June, some of the biggest names in the NFL demanded that bosses condemn racism and admit they had previously silenced players, like Kaepernick, who protested it.
The following day, Goodell responded with a video in which he said the NFL was wrong for not listening to those players earlier, though he faced backlash for not mentioning Kaepernick by name.
Kneeling for the national anthem has become the norm for players looking to protest racism during sporting events, and Acho and Goodell commented on the fact that this act is sometimes misconstrued to be unpatriotic.
It is not about the flag. The message here, and what our players are doing, is being mischaracterised.
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’re a military family.
What they were trying to do was exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. That misrepresentation in who they were and what they were doing was a thing that really gnawed at me.
Goodell went on to say that protests against racism had been going on in the NFL for a ‘long, long time’, admitting: ‘That’s where we should have listened sooner. We should have been in there with them, understanding and figuring out what we can do as the NFL.’
The commissioner said the league is now using its platform ‘effectively’ to join the fight for justice.
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