Athletes are calling out the National Football League after they tried to speak out against racism while not acknowledging their own serious faults.
Star football players participated in a video released on Twitter on Thursday. The players demanded a revised statement from the league on systemic racism. Stars like Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Tyrann Mathieu, Deshaun Mahomes and Patrick Mahomes all made appearances in the 71-second video. They all spoke the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, and more by proclaiming they are representations of them because of their Blackness.
“I am Eric Garner,” said Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. “I am Frank Smart,” said Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The current protests across the world are a result of years of racial oppression, especially from the police. The recent death of George Floyd received the most media attention when he was caught on camera with a knee to his neck by fired officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd could be heard yelling “I can’t breathe” during the arrest. He eventually died and the four officers involved have been fired and charged after civil unrest. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder.
Floyd’s death comes after the death of people like Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her own home after a “no-knock” warrant from the police, and Ahmaurd Arbery who was killed by vigilante’s Travis McMichael and his father George McMichael, both of whom have been charged with murder.
The NFL initially released a statement, signed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, which read, “Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those who have lost loved ones, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, the cousin of Tracy Walker of the Detroit Lions.”
They further said “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. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs, and partners.”
This was definitely not enough though, considering they still haven’t apologized to Colin Kaepernick and the other players who took a knee to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Kaepernick is still, in fact, unemployed by the league, which sends a clear message that if you peacefully protest anti-Black violence, you could lose your job in the league.
NFL stars in the Thursday video demanded the NFL explicitly say, “We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people. We the National Football League admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We the National Football League believe Black lives matter.”
On Thursday, the NFL released another statement on their Instagram acknowledging that “Black Lives Matter.”
Through their community initiative Inspire Change, they also said that they’ve “supported programs and initiatives throughout the country to address systemic racism. We will continue using our platform to challenge the injustice around us.”
The league then said after donating “$44 million to support hundreds of worthy organizations,” this year, they’ll donate “$20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work. We know that we can and need to do more.”
Still no apology to silencing players and how that will be treated in the future.