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Roger Goodell says NFL was wrong not to encourage players to protest peacefully

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players speak out."
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/ Source: NBC News

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday apologized to players for not listening to their concerns regarding racism sooner.

In a video posted to Twitter, Goodell offered his condolences to families who have endured "police brutality," including George Floyd, a black man who died while in Minneapolis police custody last week; Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman killed during a police raid in Kentucky; and Ahmaud Arbery, who was gunned down while out for a jog in Georgia.

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"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," he said. "We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest."

The NFL has been a flashpoint for protests over police violence ever since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 during the national anthem before games. Kaepernick has since gone unsigned — and emerged as a leading voice in opposition of police violence.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison tweeted his support for Goodell's statement but said the league should go further to address the treatment of Kaepernick.

"I’m glad [the] NFL condemns racism, admits 'we were wrong', but what about former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick?" Ellison said.

Rapper and producer Ice Cube also chimed in, posting a photo of Kaepernick to his twitter account.

"Do the right thing for this man," he said.

Goodell's statement on Friday came on the heels of a video released by NFL players on Thursday calling for the end of systemic racism. The video was directed at the NFL.

“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas said at the beginning of the video.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu went on to add, “How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?”

On Wednesday, Saints quarterback Drew Brees was asked to comment on Kaepernick. Brees said that he saw all people as equal, but insisted he “will never agree with anyone disrespecting the flag." He later apologized for his comments and said he "will do better."

"I know there's not much that I can say that would make things any better right now, but I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am," Brees said in a video posted to Instagram. "I am sorry, and I will do better, and I will be part of this solution, and I am your ally."