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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

NFL players ask league to support making November activism awareness month

Roger Goodell

Several current and former NFL players are looking for ways to call attention to issues of racial and social inequality, and they are asking the league to help them accomplish their goals.

According to a 10-page memo obtained by Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, a group of players asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and vice president of football operations Troy Vincent in August to invest financial resources and time in their movement. One of the most prominent things the players are looking to do is to make November a social activism awareness month for the NFL, similar to what the league has done with breast cancer awareness month in October.

The four current and former players who wrote the letter are Michael Bennett, Torrey Smith, Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin.

“To be clear, we are asking for your support,” a portion of the memo reads. “We appreciate your acknowledgement on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level. To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action.”

Robinson reports that the letter was sent after Goodell spoke directly with players in August about national anthem protests, urging them to take a more progressive approach with social activism.

Neither league officials nor the players who wrote the later would say whether or not the league responded. However, Goodell and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie attended a “listen and learn” tour hosted by the players in Philadelphia on Sept. 12. The purpose was to inform league owners and officials of the work the players have been doing in the community for criminal justice reform. Goodell also came out strongly in support of Bennett after Bennett said he was a victim of racism and police brutality.

Sources told Robinson that Goodell is hoping to promote open lines of communication between the league office and players in addition to exploring ways in which the league can help players who are striving for social activism.

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