Recently the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shifted conversations of equality in every aspect. The frustrations from the Black community are finally starting to be heard by many brands, businesses, and influencers. They have become open to learning and listening to the changes that need to be made. The NFL is no different, they have released multiple statements siding with players and embracing the changes that should be made going forward against systemic racism. The statement that raised the most eyebrows was commissioner Roger Goodell’s video responding to the players agreeing to condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. The commissioner also admitted that the league was wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier. This video received many mixed reviews; some people were happy that Goodell spoke out and agreed that the league was wrong for not siding with players earlier while others weren’t sold on the video.This includes some players. Personally, my stance is somewhere in the middle. I think it’s great that the league admitted their wrongs and are committed to donating to different programs to fight against systemic racism, but this issue is larger than words or money. Actions need to be taken by the NFL starting today; which is why I decided to share my views on ways the NFL can improve racial equality within their own home.
1. The league needs to publicly apologize to Colin Kaepernick.
When the commissioner made his statement addressing the players and the lack of support the league provided, a small portion of me was waiting on Goodell to mention Colin specifically;, the person who started the movement and received the most backlash from fans, sports broadcasters, and even the president. Along with an apology, many people believe the league owes Kaepernick the opportunity to play again. I believe Kaepernick should be offered a position within the league’s office, working with both players and higher-ups. He should be allowed to create ways to help the community fight against police brutality and other social issues, as well as, creating equality within the league, which leads to my next point.
2. More diversity in coaching/office positions.
Currently, the NFL has three black head coaches and only two black general managers. With around 70% of players being African American in the league, this is a huge concern. Though it has been addressed multiple times, changes have to be made now and the Rooney Rule is not enough. Teams shouldn’t be bribed to hire minority coaches and owners shouldn’t have to be persuaded by diversity committees to include those who should have been included in the first place. It starts with the people who are already in those positions to make the change. Instead of just looking out for a coach you already know or hiring a coach you are most “comfortable” with, hire the most qualified. This not only goes for coaching, but office jobs as well. Until changes are made in this area, I don’t think the league can honestly say they stand for equality or respect the players when you can’t even put people who look like them in higher positions.
3. Actively support and side with players through this fight against injustice.
A huge reason why I believe some players aren’t sold on commissioner Goodell’s video is that it is much easier to talk than act, and the commissioner’s words require a lot of action.
“We the national Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People”,
“We the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter”
These words require the NFL to actively make changes and support their players who are doing the same in their community. Right now we are witnessing a lot of companies coming out stating that they want to help and they are open to listening and learning. Well this is the time and the NFL especially can not afford to drop the ball. With all of the tragedies occurring right now, I am sure many players are going to have ideas on ways they can help and the league as well. The NFL needs to be open to listening and working with the players. This situation is much larger than giving donations and apologies; it is going to take everyone being hands-on and committed to this fight to make a difference.
Photo credit IG: kaepernick7Kayla is the Assistant Sports director for The Wolf Sports, as well as a co-host on Urban Kulture you can follow the show on twitter @urbankultureuwg