The NFL says they were wrong about anthem protests

In an unprecedented admission that the NFL failed in its response to anthem protest, its commissioner Roger Goodell apologizes for not listening to its players

(Credit: screenshot and Getty Images)

Apparently, nationwide protests, the online thrashing of one of its premiere white quarterbacks, and the recently released clip from some of its marquee players— including biracial Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes — has led to a change of heart for the NFL.

READ MORE: Ex- NFL exec admits Colin Kaepernick’s career ended because of activism

This evening, NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell made a surprising announcement on the NFL’s official social media account. He expressed his condolences to the family of George Floyd and then unequivocally stated the NFL stands with its African-American players.

Kobe Bryant

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference prior to Super Bowl LIV at the Hilton Miami Downtown on January 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The San Francisco 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the 54th playing of the Super Bowl, Sunday February 2nd. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

“It has been a difficult time in our country particularly Black people in our country,” Goodell said in the 2-minute plus video. “First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the families who have endured police brutality.

“We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people,” Goodell continued.

“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without Black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of Black players, coaches, fans and staff. We are listening, I am listening and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve for a better and more united NFL family. ”

This would appear to be a direct response to the video that was released by a number of NFL players including Mahomes, New Orleans Saints’ wide receiver Micheal Thomas, Cleveland Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and others widely viewed as some of the top stars of the future in the league. They asked for the NFL as a league to say exactly what Goodell said in the video.



This also followed the controversial comments of Saints quarterback Drew Brees who equated NFL anthem protests to ‘disrespecting the flag. He was rebuked by his own teammates including Thomas, Cameron Jordan, and Alvin Kamara, who shared an emotional Twitter thread about racial profiling and growing up as the son of an undocumented African mother.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump tweeted in support of Brees, once again saying that players should stand for the National anthem.


As could be expected, the response was swift from all corners of the NFL universe after Goodell’s comments.  Many fans suggested that he apologize to Colin Kaepernick who was blackballed from the league due to the anthem protests.

READ MORE: Nessa Diab calls out the NFL for lying that Colin Kaepernick ‘retired’ on new website: ‘Tell them to stop denying him employment’


Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!