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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he wishes the league ‘listened sooner’ to Colin Kaepernick 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he wishes the league ‘listened sooner’ to Colin Kaepernick about racism, adding that players kneeling in protest during the anthem are not ‘unpatriotic’

  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league should have ‘listened earlier’ to Colin Kaepernick and other players who protested racism during the anthem 
  • Speaking with retired NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho, Goodell was given a chance to make a public apology to Kaepernick, who remains a free agent 
  • Goodell said he’s invited Kaepernick in for a face-to-face, but he has refused 
  • Donald Trump has accused protesting players of being unpatriotic, but Goodell slammed that criticism: ‘They’re not disloyal. They’re not against our military’

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league should have ‘listened earlier’ to Colin Kaepernick and other players who protested racism by kneeling during the national anthem.

In a scene from retired NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho’s upcoming web series ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,’ Goodell was given a chance to voice a public apology to Kaepernick, whom the Commissioner said has thus far refused to sit down for a face-to-face meeting.

‘We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue,’ Goodell told Acho in a video that was posted on Sunday. ‘I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did. And we would’ve benefited from that, absolutely.’

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league should have ‘listened earlier’ to Colin Kaepernick and other players who protested racism by kneeling during the national anthem

In a scene from retired NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho's upcoming web series 'Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,' Goodell voiced a public apology to Colin Kaepernick

In a scene from retired NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho’s upcoming web series ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,’ Goodell voiced a public apology to Colin Kaepernick 

The protests began with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, as a way to address inequality and racist police brutality. Hundreds of players have followed by kneeling, sitting, or raising a fist during The Star-Spangled Banner, even as Kaepernick has remained unsigned since 2017, when he opted out of his contract in anticipation of his release

The protests began with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, as a way to address inequality and racist police brutality. Hundreds of players have followed by kneeling, sitting, or raising a fist during The Star-Spangled Banner, even as Kaepernick has remained unsigned since 2017, when he opted out of his contract in anticipation of his release

Goodell previously acknowledged that the NFL should have listened to its players’ concerns following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. 

‘That’s where we should have listened sooner,’ Goodell reiterated to Acho. ‘And that’s where we should have been in there with them, understanding and figuring out what we can do as the NFL.’

The protests began with Kaepernick in 2016, when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, as a way to address inequality and racist police brutality. Hundreds of players have followed by kneeling, sitting, or raising a fist during The Star-Spangled Banner, even as Kaepernick has remained unsigned since March of 2017, when he opted out of his contract in anticipation of his release. 

Last year, Kaepernick settled a collusion lawsuit with the league for an undisclosed amount after accusing owners of blackballing him in retaliation for the protests.

Trump pictured during the 2019 Army-Navy football game. Trump originally seized on the issue of player protests back in 2017, calling the demonstrators 'sons of b****es'

Trump pictured during the 2019 Army-Navy football game. Trump originally seized on the issue of player protests back in 2017, calling the demonstrators ‘sons of b****es’

Although Goodell attempted to implement a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem, he ultimately relented, and players have continued demonstrating amid intense criticism from fans and even some owners.

While tensions over the protests simmered throughout the 2016 season, they boiled over in 2017 when President Donald Trump seized upon the issue at a rally in Alabama. Since then, Trump has continued deriding the protests as unpatriotic, going so far as to refer to demonstrators as ‘sons of b****es.’

In speaking with Acho, Goodell stressed that the demonstrations are not unpatriotic, but rather have been mischaracterized by critics.

‘These are not people who are unpatriotic. They’re not disloyal. They’re not against our military,’ Goodell said. ‘In fact, many of those guys were in the military, and they’re a military family. And what they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. And that misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me.’

Goodell previously told ESPN that he hopes to see the 32-year-old Kaepernick back on an NFL roster, and has encouraged teams to sign him.

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