Roger Goodell's statement on protests isn't exactly what NFL players asked of him

Sporting News

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell heard star players asking the league for a specific statement on racial injustice. He mostly complied Friday, but he didn't repeat perhaps the most important part of their request.

Goodell recorded a reply to the Zoom video posted Thursday by Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, in which a group of 18 players challenged "We, the National Football League" to speak out against racism and the oppression of black people and acknowledge that black lives matter.

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Goodell repeated those parts as he read his statement. He also added, "Without black players, there would be no National Football League." But he failed to stick with the middle part of the players' demand: to "admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting."

You'll hear the not-subtle difference in the clip below. Listen to the entire clip, but pay attention to what Goodell says from 25 seconds to 34 seconds. It's not what the players wanted.

For those who can't or won't watch, here's what Goodell said:

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

"Not listening to NFL players earlier" is, to these eyes, not the same as "silencing our players from peacefully protesting."

Thomas, for his part, tweeted support of Goodell's response:

Goodell and team owners tried to presure Colin Kaepnerick, Eric Reid and other players to stop kneeling on the sideline in protest of police brutality and racial injustice during the national anthem beginning in 2016. The fight between the league and players lasted for more than years, and Kaepernick has not been on an NFL roster since the end of the 2016 season.

Goodell's response Friday brought a stream of replies calling for the league to make amends with the former 49ers quarterback.

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