Like many major brands and leagues, the NFL issued a statement as protests against police brutality and racial injustice, sparked by George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, launched nationwide. Many of its players have spoken out on the subject and the league committed $20 million to social justice programs on Thursday, but the hypocrisy of the league that has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick for peacefully protesting issuing these statements claiming to support the movement has not been lost on many of its biggest stars.
While Drew Brees’ comments about how he still feels Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality is wrong drew ire from teammates, others in the NFL, and even the likes of LeBron James, the players haven’t forgotten the league’s stance on the same issue. On Thursday night, a number of star players posted a strong video message featuring prominent voices like Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley, and many more, calling for the league to strongly “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people” and “admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting.”
It’s an incredibly powerful video, and that this many of the league’s stars participated shows that the NFL is going to have to take this very seriously. Having the players say “I am…” and listing out only a partial, yet lengthy, list of names of unarmed black people killed by police and white citizens, like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin was gutting, and the players asserting their right to peacefully protest indicates that whenever football returns to the field, so will the protests the league tried so hard to get rid of.