Players who drafted memo think NFL can help create positive change


The players who sent the memo to NFL comissioner Roger Goodell earlier this year said they haven’t gotten a response from the league per se, but that conversations have been productive.

Four players sent a memo to the league asking for the NFL’s support for an activism awareness month, in which players could continue their protests in support of racial equality and criminal justice reform.

“We haven’t gotten a reaction just yet,” Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said, via “Hopefully we’ll have another meeting in the near future. Hopefully something comes out of it.

“But it’s just the thought of a lot of players coming together and having some ideas about how we can move forward and be able to impact the communities around the United States in cities that NFL teams are in, is just what it’s about.”

Bennett, along with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and wide receiver Torrey Smith and retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin, drafted the 10-page memo in August. The league’s not commenting on the specifics, saying the conversations are private.

But the league has previously devoted months or periods of time to breast cancer awareness and military recognition (and selling you stuff to prove how much they care), so the idea of a coordinated effort is not new. But players hope to steer the league’s incredible visibility and marketing savvy toward a new set of issues.

Jenkins called it an “opportunity for us, being a sport that brings people together naturally to also use that ability to actually effectuate some real change.”

“One of the main things for us is changing the narrative and controlling the narrative,” Jenkins said. “I think one of the reasons you’ve seen players protesting is because there is no bigger platform than the NFL. And to be able to use that exposure and educate people to what’s going on around the communities is huge. That can be even more amplified if the NFL actually steps in and helps aid that education to the public about what’s going on in these cities that NFL stadiums are in.”

While the general relationship between Goodell and players hasn’t always been friendly, Bennett said he’s “never had an issue with him,” and “We’ve always had good conversations since I’ve known him.”

Smith said the NFL could benefit from partnering with the player movement, since some believe the backlash from protests such as former (for some reason) quarterback Colin Kaepernick has contributed to declining ratings, though the reasons for several of the protests might not be clearly understood.

“And guys are fighting for what’s right,” Smith said. “I think if it was something that put people in a bind, I would understand. I think it’s also important because the league catches a lot of heat for protests and things like that, so it’s important for people to know there’s work being done beyond the protest, just as it’s important for people to know that it’s not an anti-police or anti-military thing. It’s just about finding solutions to issues we’re having.”

Once the memo leaked, the NFL was painted into a bit of a corner. Not participating in some meaningful way now would foster the impression they’re not concerned about the issues that matter to the majority of their workforce, while they use their promotional ability for other causes that seem less controversial.

35 responses to “Players who drafted memo think NFL can help create positive change

  1. Not anti-police? Please. Collin Kapernick (who’s not in the league because he sucks AND is a distraction) who started this “movement” likes to wear socks with little pigs in police uniforms. It’s completely anti-Police.

  2. Positive change will only occur when a certain portion of the population decides to stop committing crimes and resisting arrest. Only criminals need fear the police. The change needs to come from within…

  3. Just play football! There are plenty of outlets NFL players have to voice their grievances on. At the money these guys make, start your own network, but leave the games alone and put your money where your mouth is!

  4. Easy, go ahead and allow it. But open it to ALL issues that players want to give voice to. Not just this select group. If they want ‘support’ not just ‘permission’ give the support equally to ALL issues players want to raise, not just this one select group. Im not suggesting anything other than treating everyone equally so I would think that would be fair and shouldnt upset anyone.

  5. None of this would be happening if one of the teams had signed Kaepernick. Personally, I think Kaep has a right to his opinions and to advocate for issues off the field, but his employer has a right to punish him for doing it on the field when he’s wearing the uniform and getting paid to play.

    My prediction? There will be no response from ol’ Roger, and the players will start to label him a “racist” for not agreeing with them. This will expand to include all NFL fans too, as you will soon be labelled the same for not supporting them.

    I can understand a team’s hesitancy in signing him, because teams don’t want negative publicity and that’s exactly what Kaep brings. He could have had a job in Baltimore until his racist girlfriend compared the owner and GM to the slaveowners in Django Unchained. How can someone be a slave when they were making millions of $$$ a year? Just because people didn’t like him expressing himself freely on TV? Actions have consequences, just like yelling ‘fire’ in a theater.

  6. The NFL is nearly the perfect place for this sort of thing. Only NASCAR fans are worse than NFL fans when it comes to failing to see the issue. But this won’t happen in NASCAR because most of the drivers and crews are part of the privileged group that the fans belong to.

  7. “One of the main things for us is changing the narrative and controlling the narrative,” Jenkins said

    See this is the problem and why the NFL should unequivocally deny their request. Jenkins and the like dont want an honest discussion about race relations or so called inequality. They want a platform to push their narrative. Narrative as in a story from 1 person or sides point of view. Allowing people whose stated goal is to push a new narrative is the same as supporting a lie, bc thats what narratives are. They are used to put together information in a way to support what the people creating the narrative want you to see or believe. Im not saying they are purposely going to lie. They will probably believe everything they say, but just bc they do doesnt make it true. Most people cant see past themselves. So they tend to believe they have it the worst, or someone else has it easier. They cant see that what they may see as inequality might be something that happens to everyone. The narratives theyve been fed their whole life just get in the way.

    So if they are not looking for real honest hard truths to be told on national television during NFL games the NFL must say no, because allowing a group of players to get up in front of the world with league backing and basically blame a large portion of the country for what they see as unfair while taking no responsibility for themselves or without trying to understand what the world is like for the people they are blaming, then all its gonna do is further divide people.

    Because that is the honest truth. We will continue to divjde further and further apart until everyone stops trying to point out what they believe everyone else is doing wrong. All that does is anger the other side bc they know a lot of the things that are said about them is untrue. That goes for both sides. No one likes to be accused of something they didnt do. But only 1 side is allowed to defend themselves, ands thats how Jenkins, Bennett, Smith, and Bolden apparently like it.

  8. As the NFL allows their game to be less and less about an entertainment escape from the issues of life… my interest in the NFL is getting less and less to match.

  9. I, for one, will not be watching the NFL during their “Inequality Awareness Month” if this is implemented. I will watch all other months though

  10. Racism is the scab that America constantly picks at, never letting it heal. I’ll be long dead in my grave before true equality is ever achieved here in America, and the world for that matter.

  11. Americas favorite brand says:
    September 22, 2017 at 7:14 am
    Easy, go ahead and allow it. But open it to ALL issues that players want to give voice to. Not just this select group. If they want ‘support’ not just ‘permission’ give the support equally to ALL issues players want to raise, not just this one select group. Im not suggesting anything other than treating everyone equally so I would think that would be fair and shouldnt upset anyone.

    14 17 Rate This
    Wow. How could anyone downvote a suggestion of equality. That just shows that this is not about equality. The NFL should recognize the trap here and steer clear. They will get called some names for that, but it’s nothing compared to what they will get if they step in the middle of it.

  12. When will MOST of these people start putting their money where their mouth is?? All this talk about racial equality etc but I don’t see any of them actually doing anything about it.

  13. There really is a good opportunity to have the NFL, the players and the owners all combine efforts to be a positive voice for change. It will be interesting to see how they respond

  14. If this is the direction of the NFL then I hope they will enjoy lower viewership and empty stadiums.

  15. Whatever happened to players having foundations and such? I used to see banners around the stadiums all of the time.

    If people think that a group of 31 rich white guys, plus whatever the ownership of Green Bay is, are going to solve racism and inequality, then they are delusional.

  16. Keep focusing on divisive issues that drive wedges between segments of society & make half the population immediately hate you. Let’s see where you are in 5 to 10 years! My guess is worse off than you are now, just ask that dude who used to be the starting qb for the 49ers!!

  17. What exactly do these players think that the NFL can do? Us billionaire owners and millionaire players want to you to realize that inequality exists.

    Maybe they should televise the CBA negotiations, and give people a real world example of inequality.

  18. Looks like NCAA College Football will be where I spend my time. GO USC!!!

    I can mow my lawns now on Sundays.

  19. More Cowbell says:
    September 22, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Wow. How could anyone downvote a suggestion of equality.

    No one is down voting a suggestion of equality, they are down voting the thought of the NFL getting involved in something they have no business being involved in.

    With their abysmal record on dealing with domestic violence, they should steer clear of social issues altogether. Just work on presenting the game of football, and nothing else. If a player gets in trouble, suspend him, but don’t try to make an example out of him just for some futile attempt to try and make people think they care.

  20. The league has already moved on. Notice how you no longer see people kneeling during the anthem this season? That’s not a coincidence. The league instructed camera people to stop showing them. The situaion is mostly over and this lame memo will be forgotten quickly. The millionaires with guaranteed money can cry, but the majority of the league aren’t millionaires and aren’t blowing their once in a lifetime chance at lifting their families out of poverty for an irrelevant social justice ploy.

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