Roger Goodell on protests: “We want them to use that voice”


In the immediate aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s first protest of the national anthem, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he believed in the right to free speech, but also wanted to make sure everyone knew he was a genuine star-spangled patriot (if not a Patriot).

But in discussing the continued displays over the weeks since, Goodell said he appreciates the social conscience of players who choose to speak out, hoping they can use their voices in a way to solve some problems.

“As I’ve said before, I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change the community,” Goodell said, via Ben Goessling of “We don’t live in a perfect society. We want them to use that voice. They’re moving from protests to progress and trying to make things happen in the communities, and I admire that about our players [being] willing to do that.”

The phrase “from protests to progress” sounds Frank Luntz-style focus-group approved, but it’s at least a recognition that protests are happening. Goodell said he has not spoke with Kaepernick since the 49ers quarterback began sitting, then kneeling for the national anthem to bring attention to racism and police brutality.

“Obviously, we want to respect people,” Goodell said. “We want to respect our differences. We want to reflect our flag and our country, and our players understand that. So I think where they’re moving and how they’re moving there is very productive, and we’re going to encourage that.”

While it’s not exactly a stirring call to arms, it’s at least a recognition that enough players are willing to say something that it’s going to be hard to keep them all from doing so.

47 responses to “Roger Goodell on protests: “We want them to use that voice”

  1. Right out of the Obama playbook; deny the Cowboys from wearing a police decal & let players protest the national anthem. Can’t get more left than.

  2. Many of us fans,watch the performance of the athletes on the field.
    WE DO NOT necessarily feel we must listen to their opinions, ideas, thoughts, etc.
    You in the media continually keep up with these daily troubles and “Kardashian activities”

  3. This will hurt the nfl as players feel more emboldened by Goodell’s comments. Judging from the comments by fans on this website the public has little appetite for this. Case in point is the transgender bathroom policy of the Target stores—their business has taken a significant decline in promoting a policy that many customers disagree with. People make choices everyday on how to spend their time and their money–yes it is a free country.

  4. “Obviously, we want to respect people,” Goodell said.

    In fairness to Goodell, the only people he clearly HASNT been respectful of are women and fans.

  5. I have watched 5 games minimum a week of football for years. goodell has destroyed this product and given such preferential treatment to his favorites, awarding blatant cheating and pushing the refs to support the nfl darlings.

    so far this year, i am watching 1 to 2 games.

    I am one fan, but there are many like us.

    keep up the BS goodell. College ball is much more exciting than the product you are selling – and this is from a guy that has never followed College ball.

  6. Unless you speak out against the league, then you are fined.

    Unless you criticize the officials, then you are fined.

    But it’s is OK to leak wrong info to the press, if you are in the NFL front office,

    The buffoonery of Roger the Dodger continues…

  7. Goodell is an IDIOT, make them stand for the flag & the greatest country in the WORLD!!! There are other ways to express your opinions!!! If the media would quit filming these players then it would go away!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA LOVE IT OR LEAVE!!!

  8. jchipwood says:
    Sep 19, 2016 11:10 AM
    If I wanted to watch one sided views on politics I’d watch CNN instead of football.
    If you wanted to watch the Patriots JV team beat the crap out of the Dolphins, which channel would you watch?
    Oh yeah, CBS.

  9. If you guys don’t like it watch the Premier League. I’ll take my NFL and the protests and dare you to turn your clicker off. For Christ sake they don’t even show the national anthem most of the time and I’m sure you guys aren’t sitting in your living rooms standing and saluting when it is played but trying to get your snacks before the game starts.

  10. “We want them to use that voice”

    If a liar’s pants really did catch on fire Goodell’s wardrobe would need to be made entirely of asbestos.

  11. Yes as public opinion has relaxed a bit on players taking a kneel, now suddenly Roger has a different tone. Whether you agree with the protests or not, at least you have a real opinion. Roger and the NFL always just wait to see which way the wind will blow and react as usual. Except when it comes to deflated footballs of course. Then by all means, take a stand. Or a knee.

  12. yourunclerico says:
    Sep 19, 2016 11:22 AM
    I have watched 5 games minimum a week of football for years. goodell has destroyed this product and given such preferential treatment to his favorites, awarding blatant cheating and pushing the refs to support the nfl darlings.


    What are you talking about?

    Goodell works for the owners. He does what they want. If he goes against what they want they would fire him (which is what happened in baseball to Bowie Kuhn and Fay Vincent).

    If you don’t like what Goodell does all that means is you don’t like what the owners want and do. The next commissioner will be the same as Goodell, just like Rozelle and Tagliabue were the same. The only difference is that there was no Internet during Rozelle’s era and cable barely existed for the last years of Rozelle’s tenure. The Internet was growing during the latter part of Tagliabue’s tenure but social media was barely existent. Otherwise, what Rozelle and Tagliabue was no different from Goodell.

  13. I think more people should be upset that Darren Sharper is nominated for the Hall of Fame, with his 16 rape convictions

  14. Rham, In true fairness to Goodell, he has been the most commissioner to women and the fans that the NFL has ever had. While me may have taken the odd route at times, he has gotten it right. When has he ever picked game day performance over a battered woman or child? He lowered the burden of proof on fair competition rule violations. He gets it, that true footballs only want an even playing field, regrdless if their team gets pummelled every game. The fairest thing he did was to suspend Tom Brady. No player is bigger then game, a lesson that Tom Brady will never learn but for true football fans, the message has been clear and true.

  15. nflviewer says:
    Sep 19, 2016 11:48 AM
    yourunclerico says:
    Sep 19, 2016 11:22 AM


    What are you talking about?

    Goodell works for the owners. He does what they want. If he goes against what they want they would fire him (which is what happened in baseball to Bowie Kuhn and Fay Vincent).
    Goodell runs the league, period. yes he is accountable to all the owners, to a degree – but he is the one in charge. dont think for a second that he is not involved in EVERY aspect of the game as it relates to making money – this includes nods to his favs.

  16. factschecker says:
    Sep 19, 2016 11:50 AM
    Kneeling is so disrespectful. Tim Tebow must really hate God.

    That was the weakest defense of Kaepernick I’ve read yet.

  17. Problem is, the protest itself is the biggest story, rather than the message. What the heck do they expect will change anytime soon?

  18. Goodell doesnt seem to realize that viewers are down this year due to these ridiculous protests. Go into your community and talk to people. Why blame our country for the actions of a few? There are always rogue cops and there are those who don’t follow the law, white and black. That being said, there is no INSTITUTIONAL oppression of black people, so that makes the national anthem rebuttal inconsistent with the real problems.

  19. cowboylover says:
    Sep 19, 2016 1:07 PM
    That being said, there is no INSTITUTIONAL oppression of black people, so that makes the national anthem rebuttal inconsistent with the real problems.
    I assume that statement is coming from a white man because any black man would know that’s ridiculous. Live 15 minutes in my world and come back and say that.

  20. Some of you guys need to grow up. Less than 1% of the NFL is doing a peaceful protest and some of you flip out like they are burning the flag. They are kneeling, peacefully and respectfully.

    If you want it all my way or the highway then go to Russia where they have no freedom to peacefully protest.

    the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

    absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.

    the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

  21. Duffel bag– not a white man or black man. I didn’t say no oppression, I said institutional oppression by this country. Laws protect citizens of all races, creeds, religion, sex. If people go outside of it, then they are lawbreakers. I’m speaking of the laws of the country, whose president is a black man, so a protest against the country at large is not rational. Just my opinion. As a white woman I’ve had my share of insults, etc. I just blame the people that do it, not my country at large.

  22. meleliko says:
    Sep 19, 2016 1:23 PM
    Protest on your own time, not company time!

    That is antithetical to protesting. They’re not here to assuage your discomfort.

  23. rje49 says:
    Sep 19, 2016 12:53 PM
    Problem is, the protest itself is the biggest story, rather than the message. What the heck do they expect will change anytime soon?

    The people — like those here — complaining with their bigoted nonsense are the ones who make the protest the bigger story; intentionally trying to distract from the points Kaepernick made so that they don’t have to confront their part in it (and they are complicit), not the guys protesting. But that’s standard operating procedure whenever racists and the byproducts racism are called to the fore.

  24. Could this be the reason the NFL viewership is down? I’ve watched and loved football all my life, but because of these recent protests, which are just complaints wrapped in uneducated falsehoods, I haven’t watched a game in two weeks. I played my fantasy teams, but not using any NFL-owned site. And guess what? These last two weeks have been great! Got more work done, wasn’t stressing about my team, didn’t pay attention to the fantasy results until late last night, all while doing my own form of protest. I’d highly recommend this to everyone. 10 years ago I would have never thought at 38 I’d not want to watch football on Sunday’s, but here I am and I love it.

  25. How about those two cops that got shot going after that NY terrorist? They do this everyday, run into fire, to protect even the least of our citizens. This is why these protests are disgusting, as is the Goodell and the NFL for supporting a stereotype of police, that’s right folks, apparently it is now okay to stereotype of group of people.

  26. Since the NFL nows approves of their employees to protest during work, I will sit out from watching any game. I work in a professional line of work and I would be fired if I tried to protest for a cause while at work. I can find many things to do on a Sunday afternoon. Good luck.

  27. Went fishing Sunday afternoon. Tonight cruising online looking at scores and such. I wonder if there were protests about the anthem and flag on MNF? I ve enjoyed the weekend.

  28. Hey Roger, you want them to use that voice? Well, the fans don’t care about the players’ voices. The fans care about football….and they don’t want their country disrespected on the field. So, Roger, you must have forgotten that the fans have a voice, too. And the fans voice is no more NFL.

  29. Want to protest the protest? Don’t buy NFL tickets. That will send a message loud and clear. Go to a college game instead.

  30. This wonderful letter is circulating on FB. Hope it reaches Goodell.

    “I missed the ’90-’91 season because I was with a battalion of Marines in Desert Storm. 14 of my wonderful Marines returned home with the American Flag draped across their lifeless bodies. My last conversation with one of them, Sgt Garrett Mongrella, was about how our Giants were going to the Super Bowl. He never got to see it.

    Many friends, Marines, and Special Forces Soldiers who worked with or for me through the years returned home with the American Flag draped over their coffins.

    Now I watch multi-millionaire athletes who never did anything in their lives but play a game, disrespect what brave Americans fought and died for. They are essentially spitting in the faces and on the graves of real men, men who have actually done something for this country beside playing with a ball and believing they’re something special! They’re not! My Marines and Soldiers were!
    You are complicit in this!
    You’ll fine players for large and small infractions but you lack the moral courage and respect for our nation and the fallen to put an immediate stop to this. Yes, I know, it’s their 1st Amendment right to behave in such a despicable manner. What would happen if they came out and disrespected you or the refs publicly?

    I observed a player getting a personal foul for twerking in the end zone after scoring. I guess that’s much worse than disrespecting the flag and our National Anthem. Hmmmmm, isn’t it his 1st Amendment right to express himself like an idiot in the end zone?

    Why is taunting not allowed yet taunting America is OK? You fine players for wearing 9-11 commemorative shoes yet you allow scum on the sidelines to sit, kneel or pump their pathetic fist in the air. They are so deprived with their multi-million dollar contracts for playing a freaking game! You condone it all by your refusal to act. You’re just as bad and disgusting as they are. I hope Americans boycott any sponsor who supports that rabble you call the NFL. I hope they turn off the TV when any team that allowed this disrespect to occur, without consequence, on the sidelines. I applaud those who have not.

    Legends and heroes do NOT wear shoulder pads. They wear body armor and carry rifles.

    They make minimum wage and spend months and years away from their families. They don’t do it for an hour on Sunday. They do it 24/7 often with lead, not footballs, coming in their direction. They watch their brothers carted off in pieces not on a gurney to get their knee iced. They don’t even have ice! Many don’t have legs or arms.

    Some wear blue and risk their lives daily on the streets of America. They wear fire helmets and go upstairs into the fire rather than down to safety. On 9-11, hundreds vanished. They are the heroes.

    I hope that your high paid protesting pretty boys and you look in that mirror when you shave tomorrow and see what you really are, legends in your own minds. You need to hit the road and take those worms with you!

    Time to change the channel.
    Col Jeffrey A Powers USMC (Ret)
    Vista, California”

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