NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league was wrong because he hadn’t listened to players on racism before

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Goodell released a video on the NFL social media on Friday in response to the “Stronger Together” video, which features some of the league’s most famous players asking the league to take a strong stance following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

“We in the National Football League condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people,” said Goodell. “We, the National Football League, admit that we were wrong not to listen to NFL players first and encourage everyone to speak openly and peacefully protest,” said Goodell.

Goodell noted that it was a difficult time for the country, especially black Americans, and expressed his condolences to the families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and “all the families who have suffered from police brutality”.

“Without black players there would be no National Football League,” said Goodell. “And protests across the country are emblematic of centuries of silent inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.”

Goodell said he will turn to players and others who have talked about these issues to see “how we can improve and move forward for a better and more united NFL family.”

The NFL star video was released on Thursday and featured the following players: In front of Adams, Jamal Adams, Saquon Barkley, Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliott, Stephon Gilmore, DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Kendricks, Jarvis Landry, Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson and Chase Young.

In the video, the players, speaking in unison, say: “So, on behalf of the National Football League, this is what the players would like to hear you declare. We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systemic oppression of people of color. We, the National Football League, admit that we are wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe that the life of black people is important. “

Racism was a persistent problem in the NFL, particularly after ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started to kneel before the games as the national anthem played to protest police brutality.

No team has offered Kaepernick a contract since 2017, which many attribute to his protests. Kaepernick accused the owners of the NFL team of colluding to prevent him from being signed. The NFL denied any collusion but in 2019 they reached an agreement with Kaepernick and former teammate Eric Reid, who had knelt with him.

Goodell’s answer comes after a nearly year-long collaboration with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. The partnership established the accountability program, an initiative that provides scholarships to families affected by injustice across the United States. The program has created numerous public service announcements that have been released, including Meek Mill and Dreamchasers.

An NFL Inspire Change spokesperson told CNN that a legacy grant program has recently been launched and that three grants have already been awarded to families of victims of police brutality: Botham Jean, Antwon Rose II and Danroy “DJ” Henry.

Goodell’s response also comes after Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he “would never agree with anyone who didn’t respect the flag.” Brees made the comment when asked to comment on kneeling players to protest police brutality once the NFL season started in the fall.

Since then he has apologized for his “insensitive” comments after receiving criticism from his teammates and other athletes.

CNN’s Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

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