NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement Friday condemning racism, saying he admits the league was wrong to not listen to its players earlier and that it will try to do better.
“It has been a difficult time for our country, In particular, black people in our country,” Goodell said in a video released on social media. “First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the families, who have endured police brutality.
“We, the National Football League, comdemn racism and the systematic oppression, of black people. 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. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter. I personally protest with you and wanted to be part of the much-needed change in this country.”
Goodell’s video comes almost 24 hours after more than a dozen NFL stars united to send a passionate 70-second video message to the league about racial inequality on Thursday night.
The players demanded that the NFL state it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people. … We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. … We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
On Friday, Goodell did just that.
“Without black players, there would be no National Football League,” Goodell said in his video on Friday. “And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff. We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”
New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas opened the players’ video with the statement: “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then took turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?” The video closed with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.