On Thursday, Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all NFL employees regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times shared excerpts of it in his article regarding plans for the draft.
We’ve since obtained the full letter. We’ve decided to share all of it, both to underscore the gravity of the moment and hopefully to inspire everyone to do what needs to be done.
It’s worth reading the letter, if only for the Steve Gleason quote appearing near the bottom. Here’s the entire letter from Goodell to all NFL employees, unedited:
Dear NFL Family,
As we’ve all experienced, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected our communities around the world. The NFL family is no different and we are facing the same unprecedented challenges as our friends, families and neighbors. This involves all of us and we will get through it together.
Our primary concern is for the health and well-being of you and your families. We have a variety of resources to help and we encourage you to take advantage of them. You will find a wide range of advice from leading experts to help maintain your physical and mental health. If you are facing a difficult or unusual situation, please let your manager, or your HR liaison know so that we can try to get you the help you need.
I know it has not been easy balancing your personal and work lives.
But you have done that and I want to thank you for your tireless work and commitment to the NFL, our fans, players, clubs and partners. I am proud of what all of you have done over the past week and how you have proven that we can be productive in this difficult environment. This begins with caring for each other and over-communicating. You have identified issues and come up with creative solutions.
We are seeing the results of your hard work as we began our league year on schedule yesterday having concluded on Sunday a transformative CBA with our partners in the NFLPA, extending our partnership with our players through the 2030 season. We are hopefully providing our fans a small but welcomed respite from the critical matters at hand with some exciting football news and optimism about the upcoming season.
Keeping in mind our priority of protecting the health of our employees, the public and everyone associated with the NFL, we have made modifications to some of our offseason events, such as the NFL Draft. Planning for the Draft is a good example of how we will need to think differently, embrace technology and collaborate. We will also use the Draft to help support fans and those people impacted in our communities.
While there have been changes to the way we work and some of our plans, we have an unwavering commitment to upholding the NFL’s legacy of unifying and lifting the spirit of America, and bringing out the best in our fans and in our communities around the world. You’ll hear more from us in the days and weeks ahead about how we intend to demonstrate that commitment well beyond our fields. And I hope you’ll share your ideas on how we can do that.
I look no further than one of the NFL’s legendary players – Saints’ legend and advocate Steve Gleason – to provide us comfort and inspiration. Steve offered these thoughts in his acceptance speech at his Congressional Gold Medal ceremony which I was honored to attend in January:
“If we compassionately collaborate to solve problems, our human potential is boundless. If we can work to understand and solve each other’s problems, and each other’s pain compassionately, then, truly, all things are possible.”
We will get through these difficult days together and every one of you should be proud knowing that you have played an important role to help our world emerge stronger and more unified.
Thank you again and my best to you and your families.