NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday released a statement in support of the nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death, but Twitters users were quick to point out the hypocrisy of his words.
“The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country,” Goodell said in his 140-word statement, which was issued five days after Floyd’s death. “The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.”
His statement continued: “As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL’s commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society.”
Critics noted that Goodell failed to offer the same vocal support in 2016 for then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
The move, which Kaepernick and other players repeated before future games, was condemned by Donald Trump, who was the Republican presidential nominee at the time.
“Colin Kaepernick asked the NFL to care about the lives of black people and they banned him from their platform,” tweeted Michael-Shawn Dugar, a writer for The Athletic, in response to Goodell’s statement.
“I love pro football. But this message from the [NFL] is completely RIDICULOUS,” tweeted author Don Winslow. “It’s laughable on its face. A group of billionaire white guys who destroyed [Kaepernick’s] career and punished and hurt the careers of black players protesting have no credibility to send this message.”
Kaepernick, who hasn’t been signed to an NFL team since 2016, has accused league owners of colluding to keep him from playing because of his political statement.
In 2018, the NFL issued a rule that would fine teams if their players didn’t stand during the national anthem, though the policy was shelved after several weeks.
San Fransisco 49ers CEO Jed York also came under scrutiny Saturday after releasing a statement on the Floyd protests, calling for “courage and compassion as human beings to get together and acknowledge” that Black people are systemically discriminated against.
Former San Francisco 49er Eric Reid, who knelt beside Kaepernick in 2016, tweeted that York “begged” him not to kneel.
York’s statement, as well as a CNN column by former NFL executive Joe Lockhart calling for team owners to sign Kaepernick, felt like too little too late for some Twitter users.
“Actually now is the moment for Roger Goodell to step to a microphone and offer a full and complete apology to Mr. Kaepernick,” tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “To announce his commitment to supporting Mr. Kaepernick ’s charities. And to signing Mr. Kaepernick to an NFL team.”
Read more responses to the remarks made by Goodell, York and Lockhart below: