NFL Pledges $250m to battle systemic racism; open to working with Colin Kaepernick

The National Football League said Thursday it would commit $250 million over the next 10 years to fight systemic racism in the United States.

The money will go towards assisting social and racial equality projects as well as provide greater access to education and other opportunities, the league said in a news release.

“The NFL is growing our social justice efforts through a 10-year total $250 million fund to combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans,” the league said.

“The NFL and our clubs will continue to work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.”

The commitment tops the nearly $90 million the NFL pledged in 2017 over seven years to social justice causes. That plan was the result of negotiations between NFL owners and the players following Colin Kaepernick-led national anthem protests during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declared “Black Lives Matter” in a video last week and a posting on the league’s website Thursday said the league is open to working with Kaepernick on the new plan.

An unidentified official spoke with NFLNetwork’s Judy Battista:

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the work Colin and other players have led off. That is a key point here. We listened to our players. We needed to listen more, we needed to move faster. We heard them and launched a social justice platform because of what Colin was protesting about.

“The players have always been an essential piece of this effort and this campaign. It would be awesome to engage Colin on some of the work we are doing. He’s doing real impactful work. Getting him in some way would be amazing for us. There’s a lot of work to do to get to that point. We’re certainly open and willing to do that.”

Kaepernick was the first NFL player to begin protesting in 2016, refusing to stand for the US national anthem prior to games as a way of drawing attention to racial injustice and police brutality.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was subsequently released by the team in early 2017 and has not played in the NFL since, later alleging he had been blackballed by the league. Kaepernick reached an undisclosed settlement with the NFL in 2019 and withdrew his grievance.

Last week, after a group of star African-American players demanded action from the league, Goodell said the league had been wrong for not listening to players earlier and encouraged the players to speak out.

And speak out they did. According to the Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell, Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes was vocal about it on a video call with the media:

“Enough is enough. We’ve got to do something about this. I’m blessed to have this platform. Why not use it? … We (need) to come together as players and show that we believe black lives matter. … We need to be the role models to go out there and take that step.”

Sources: CBS Sports, Barron’s

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