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Volume 24 No. 117
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NFL, Roger Goodell Yet To React To Memo From Players Over Social Activism

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett said that there has been "no specific reaction" yet from the NFL in regard to the 10-page memo he and other players sent to Commissioner Roger Goodell seeking support for their activism efforts, according to Bob Condotta of the SEATTLE TIMES. Bennett added that he has "not met with Goodell," though others involved have. Bennett: "Hopefully we’ll have another meeting in the near future and something comes out of it. But it was just a thought of a lot of players coming together and having some ideas on how they can move forward and be able to impact communities around the United States and the cities that NFL teams are in" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/22). Bennett: "The NBA has done a great job of being able to continuously make money and play a great sport, but still be socially aware. We have to be able to find that same balance" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 9/22). Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins, who was one of the players who involved with the memo, said, "We're still working on next steps. But obviously, there's at least interest to listen and see what players are doing and what's going on in those communities around the NFL." Jenkins "did not answer questions about the idea of dedicating a month to activism." Jenkins: "The memo was sent in confidentiality and was supposed to be private, so we want to kind of respect that" (PENNLIVE.com, 9/21).

WEIGHING IN: ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said of NFLers sending a social activism memo to the league, “This is about nuance and this is about negotiation. If you were to go to the NFL and you were to say, ‘We want to have a unity month, and we want to make sure that police and the people they are sworn to protect have a better, more open relationship,’ then I think everybody signs on. If you tell the NFL that you want the NFL to fund a group of people that are overtly antagonistic to the police under the banner of social activism, the owners will go, 'Whoa.'" ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "The NFL is going to get pushed into this whether it wants to or not" (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/21). FS1’s Jason Whitlock said, "You can't go to another group of people and say, ‘We have a problem and we want you to bear all as relates to fixing the problem.’ That's not the way you convince a group of billionaires to support your cause. ... They're well intentioned, but this is misguided" (“Speak for Yourself,” FS1, 9/21). ESPN’s Sarah Spain: “Would a month of actually addressing serious injustices in our country ... be good? Yes, absolutely" (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN, 9/21). The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Woody Paige said the NFL will not “do anything” with player activism because it is “too touchy a subject for them when they’re dealing with sponsors." ESPN’s Pablo Torre said these issues are “radioactive” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 9/21).

THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise writes Goodell has been "disaster for the public relations and feelings of goodwill about the league." He is "almost universally hated by fans, the players view him as an evil dictator and at least one prominent owner thinks he makes way too much money." Zeise: "That’s why it is astounding that Goodell is about to receive a five-year extension" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/22). SI.com's Robert Klemko wrote under the header, "Lousy Football? Blame Newly Re-Elected DeMaurice Smith And The NFLPA." Klemko: "What has Smith ... delivered since his election in 2009? I think you’re watching it." In an effort to "curb exorbitant rookie salaries that owners and players alike agreed were getting out of hand, the NFLPA overcorrected, enacting a rookie wage scale that incentivized NFL teams to stockpile young talent and save surplus cash for a handful of second contracts." The union also "agreed to shortened practice time in the offseason, a measure that had the full backing of players but should have been more carefully scrutinized." The consequences are "clear" (SI.com, 9/21).

IS SAFER BETTER FOR THE PRODUCT? ESPN’s Steve Young said of the lack of offense in the NFL, “We're headed for a ‘safer’ NFL, less time with players and coaches together, limiting it in the spring, and limiting it in the summer." Young added, “It will get better as the season goes on when we get out of the preseason in September as I call it and it’ll get better, but the idea that it's going to get better offensively into the future when we're tending toward the ‘safer’ NFL with less time, it’s not going to get better” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/21). FS1’s Colin Cowherd said of who is to blame for the lack of scoring in the NFL, “It's the owners. They have always controlled this league and are the only billionaires involved. Don't blame DeMaurice Smith.” Cowherd: “You're asking players in a sport with film study and choreography, ‘Hey, go to London.’ That's one less day but it makes them money. ‘Go play on Thursday,’ but they can't practice. It makes them more money. This is on the owners. This is Starbucks, they’ve saturated the product.” However, Whitlock added, "The owners aren't the only ones greedy here" ("Speak for Yourself," FS1, 9/21).