Roger Goodell's Statement on Recent Protests is Too Late and Hypocritical

Dan Bernstein
May 30, 2020 - 7:45 pm

My first thought was that the NFL's statement Saturday was satire, but there was that blue checkmark indicating it was from the league's official Twitter account.

Roger Goodell, steward and protector of owners, just owned himself harder than anyone else possibly could have in the wake of worldwide protests over yet another killing of an unarmed black man by U.S. police.

"The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country," Goodell wrote, apparently only now realizing how powerfully so many NFL players and coaches have already added their voices to the conversation. 

This release reads like the result of a day of typically deliberate crisis PR consultation and lawyering that could allow them to seem involved, in an attempt to place themselves on what they now think is some right side of history.

It's more than too late.

"The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel," it continued.

"These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with out players, clubs and partners."

Unless any of this tripe comes with genuine apology for the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick for his peaceful protest regarding THIS EXACT ISSUE, nobody's buying it. Nor should they.

Goodell and the league went out of their way to change the rules to outlaw any peaceful on-field protests during the national anthem, adopting a policy that made any "lack of respect" subject to fines. As they did this, they mounted a cynical campaign to co-opt players' efforts to create positive change, running their usual playbook of buying out a genuine social or charitable movement and watering it down into just another part of their brand. It was obvious and gross at the time, and it's even more maddening now.

They were cowards then, their passive and self-protective soft collusion allowing false narratives to be spun about Kaepernick at every turn, sitting idly by as racists conflated his protest into so many things it wasn't. Even the billionaire plutocrats not personally chummy with our noxious president were fearful that their personal business could be negatively affected by a tweet, perhaps again calling Kaepernick a "son of a bitch" for daring to care that black people were being murdered by cops. They were terrified of losing income from the most hideous corners of their fandom. If we're going to re-examine Michael Jordan's flippant comment from years ago about who buys his shoes, really think about how this behavior would boil down an equivalent four words -- change the third one to "tickets" and the first one to "racists."

And they are cowards now, except for their former vice president of communications, Joe Lockhart, who was in that position from 2016 to 2018. He wrote an op-ed on on Saturday morning in which he said regarding Kaepernick, "I thought we had done a righteous job, considering. I was wrong. I think the teams were wrong for not signing him.​ Watching what's going on in Minnesota, I understand how badly wrong we were."

That's a statement. Get outta here with anything else.

Dan Bernstein is the host of the Dan Bernstein Show on middays from 9 a.m. until noon on 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.

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