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How the NFL is Addressing Social Justice Issues

The NFL has been very open about the Black Lives Matter protests that have been happening worldwide in the wake of the George Floyd murder by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. Several players have expressed their thoughts and opinions of the events, including Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris.

Harris went out for a drive near his house in Richmond when he saw police cars driving by. Harris spoke to the police for about 25 minutes about the injustice that is happening in the country, ESPN reports. “It crossed my mind that I could be potentially shot or viewed as a threat just for what I was trying to do” Harris said.

In 2018 the Vikings created a social justice group, where they advocate against social issues including racial discrimination and police brutality. Anthony Harris and teammates Ameer Abdullah and Eric Kendricks are part of the social justice group and released videos to the Vikings website after the events that occurred in Minnesota. The Vikings also donated $5 million to social justice relief across America, ESPN reports.

Anthony Harris, Ameer Abdullah and Erik Kendricks joins Defensive Line coach Andre Patterson, General Manager Rick Spielman, and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Miller in speaking about racial inequality in a social justice committee meeting on Wednesday, via Vikings.com

The NFL has received backlash for their handling of racism in the past few seasons after the events of the Colin Kaepernick kneeling. In a preseason game in 2016, quarterback Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem following the unfair treatment of minorities in America. Since then, many players from different sports followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps and kneeled during the national anthem.

Roger Goodell did not like the idea of Kaepernick “disrespecting” the national anthem following his protest, saying “we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that. I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better” USA Today reports. 

With the situation the country is currently in, Goodell now has a change of opinion and regrets not listening to Kaepernick and the other players about racial inequality, the LA Times reports. Many have even forced Goodell to formally apologize to Kaepernick and admit that the NFL was wrong in the handling of his protest.

Goodell spoke about his condolences to the families who have been personally affected by police brutality and expresses his regret of not listening to the players before about racial inequality in a video posted to the NFL’s twitter page.

“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,” Goodell says. He also adds “Without black players, there would be no National Football League, and the protest around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of Black players, coaches, fans, and staff.”

Shortly after the murdering of George Floyd, many black NFL players including Saquon Barkey, Odell Beckman, Ezekiel Elliot, Patrick Mahomes and Richard Sherman posted a powerful video to the NFL calling for the end of systematic oppression of black people and the end of police brutality.

The NFL would like their fans to know that they fully support the police brutality protests and the fight for equality. This week the NFL announced that they will consider letting players use decals and patches that represent the end police brutality, racial discrimination and other social injustices this season. Also, the NFL will play the black National Anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” before the Star Spangle Banner before each game, according to the Bleacher Report.

This is huge for the NFL in the fight against racism. In a society where there is so much injustice, the NFL are heading in the right direction to show their support of Black Lives Matters and to show that there is no room for racism in their sport and in society.

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