NFLers Write Memo To Commissioner Roger Goodell Seeking Support In Activism Efforts
Four current and former NFLers "campaigning for racial equality and criminal justice reform wrote a lengthy memo" to Commissioner Roger Goodell officially "seeking overt league support in their effort, including an endorsement for an activism awareness month," according to Charles Robinson of YAHOO SPORTS. The 10-page memo was sent to Goodell and Exec VP/Football Operations Troy Vincent in August, "requesting wide-ranging involvement in their movement from the NFL." The memo "seeks an investment of time and education, political involvement, finances and other commitments from the league." It also sought to have the NFL "endorse the month of November as an activism awareness month, similar to the periods of league calendar dedicated to breast cancer awareness and military recognition." It was endorsed by four players: Seahawks DE Michael Bennett, Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles WR Torrey Smith and former NFLer Anquan Boldin. While Bennett and Jenkins have each taken part in protesting during the playing of the national anthem, all four players have had "strong voices in a growing platform of players speaking out on a variety of social issues." Sources said that the communication came on the heels of Goodell "talking directly with several players in August -- including some who have protested on game day -- in an effort to move player activism into a progressive direction." Robinson noted the memo included a "potential timeline for the execution of wider-ranging NFL support," starting in late August '18. It is "unknown how Goodell responded," but he and Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie recently "attended a 'listen and learn' tour in Philadelphia on Sept. 12," organized by Jenkins, Boldin, Smith and attended by Eagles DE Chris Long and S Rodney McLeod. The focus of the meeting was to "talk with Goodell and Lurie about work the players have been doing in the Philadelphia community to revamp criminal justice reform in the city" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/20).
WORTH A LISTEN: ESPN’s Max Kellerman said it is in the NFL's "best interest" to create an activism awareness month. He said, "You have an ongoing and growing problem, and now the players who are involved in protests are bringing you this idea that enables you to directly confront the problem in the best possible way.” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: “Even though I agree and applaud the players from presenting this request to the league office, I also don't like it. I don't like its limitations. It's not about a month, it should be all the time. I don't want the NFL to be in a position to say, ‘Well, we gave it to you this particular month, but for the rest of the months we need to you shut the hell up and we don't need to hear anything from you’" (“First Take,” ESPN, 9/21).