The Statue of Liberty Play

The eminently quotable John Madden once explained, “Some yards is better than none yards.” The NFL, an organization that has repeatedly fumbled most of its chances to do the right thing when it comes to player protests related to race, has been gaining none yards for a long time. After punting on the issue, passing the buck, and kicking players like Colin Kaepernick to the curb, it’s worth taking a look at a slow motion replay when the league manages to move the line of scrimmage a few inches forward. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to N.F.L. 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 a part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League.” As Trump Rekindles N.F.L. Fight, Goodell Sides With Players. This comes during a week when people in the streets have pushed back, military leaders have pushed back, and religious leaders have pushed back. What’s missing? Mainstream corporate leaders (most of whom are looking for safety in numbers) pushing back. The NFL is as mainstream as you can get in America. With their immaculate rejection of faux patriotism that values anthem protocol over human lives, the league just created a slight crack in the frozen tundra. Who will take the ball and run through that hole?

+ Goodell didn’t arrive at this new position on his own. Like the street protests, the NFL’s change of tone was a grassroots movement. “The NFL’s public shift on the Black Lives Matter movement, which led to a Friday video from commissioner Roger Goodell condemning racism and admitting wrongdoing, started with an Instagram DM.” How a ‘rogue’ employee forced NFL, Goodell into new Black Lives Matter stance.

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