NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expanded on his about-face regarding the NFL’s stance on player protests during the national anthem, saying, “I wish we had listened earlier.”
During an interview on former NFL player Emmanuel Acho’s web series, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” Goodell was asked if he were to theoretically apologize to Colin Kaepernick — who has been out of the league since his protest began during the 2016 season — what he would say.
“The first thing I’d say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” Goodell responded, adding that they had invited Kaepernick multiple times to speak about his protest. “I wish we had the benefit of that.”
Goodell’s comments align with statements he put out a few months ago in the midst of the massive nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism following George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer. In June, Goodell formally admitted “we were wrong” on the league’s stance about players kneeling during the national anthem as a way to bring awareness to the issue.
During the conversation with Acho, Goodell added that it bothered him when many opponents, including Donald Trump, condemned the protests as being against the flag itself and the military.
“It is not about the flag. The message here that what are our players are doing is being mischaracterized. These are not people who are unpatriotic. They’re not disloyal. They’re not against our military,” he said. “That misrepresentation of who and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me.”
You can watch the full conversation in the video below.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man: The National Anthem Protest- PT. 1
NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, & I discuss Colin Kaepernick & the protests during the national anthem that polarized America. pic.twitter.com/PcL02732ys
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) August 23, 2020