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Roger Goodell: NFL wrong for not listening to players; encourages peaceful protest

It's almost word-for-word of what a group of players called on the league to declare in their own video Thursday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers a question during a news conference for the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

NEW YORK (TEGNA) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declared Friday that the league believes "black lives matter" in a video addressing racial inequality. He also repeated stances that more than a dozen players demanded from the league in a separate video.

One of those was encouraging players to peacefully protest.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," Goodell said. "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."


It's almost word-for-word of what a group of players called on the league to declare in their own video Thursday.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," the players said. "We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."

The one key difference: the players wanted the NFL to admit it was wrong to silence players from protesting. Goodell said the league was wrong for not listening to players. But he said the NFL would encourage them to speak out and peacefully protest.


Regarding peaceful protesting, the players did not specifically refer to kneeling during the national anthem. That form of protest was started in 2016 by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in response to police brutality and racial injustice. Others players have followed suit, but the practice has not been embraced by the league.

President Donald Trump has criticized the NFL and players for the protest.

Goodell said he would be reaching out to players to find out how the NFL can go forward more united.

"I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country," Goodell went on to say. "And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff."