NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the league's support for players fighting for racial justice and protesting police violence.
Quoting a police officer who shot Jacob Blake in the back on August 23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Goodell said the incident had "created more feelings of anger, frustration, fear and fear for many of us in the NFL family" .
The investigation into the police shooting of Blake, who is black, is ongoing.
"The NFL stands with the black community, the players, clubs and fans," Goodell said on Tuesday. “It is absolutely necessary to confront the recent systemic racism with concrete and productive steps. We will not give in in our work. We will redouble our efforts to be catalysts for the urgent and sustainable change that our societies and communities so desperately need. I am so proud of everyone in our league and of others who have taken a stand with their voices and platforms to keep putting the spotlight on things that need to change. By listening, working and understanding with our players, we have created the basis for tangible changes through our Inspire Change initiative. "
The NFL end zones will have two slogans this season: "It Takes All Of Us" on one and "End Racism" on the other. As part of its social justice awareness initiatives, the NFL will also allow similar images on helmets and caps.
The league announced earlier this summer that it would be allocating $ 250 million to social justice initiatives over a 10-year period. Goodell pointed out the NFL Votes campaign and encouraged teams to offer the use of stadiums as polling stations.
Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations for the league, said players have the right to sit outside or protest games. Teams from multiple sports leagues postponed games after Blake's shooting last week.
Ephraim Salaam lived his dream in the NFL from 1998 to 2010. Over the course of those 12 years playing for five NFL franchises including Atlanta, Denver, Jacksonville, Houston and Detroit, Salaam couldn't be blamed when one game tended to merge with the next. But there is a certain Sunday that sticks in his mind.
"The players want us to use the leverage to hold officers who are bad officers accountable," said Vincent. “That access to meetings with (prosecutors) and access to meetings with local officials to really talk about reforms and training. … A lot of work has been done, but we still see the same picture on TV of unarmed black men being shot down. "
Vincent said he was encouraged to see a shift among NFL owners to stand with the players and support their struggle.
"I ask my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to allow me to build bridges," said Vincent. "And I try to stay on the premises to find out if this is a player or a club owner. I only speak to humanity. And I would say that when dealing with club owners everyone has a heart … I believe that some of the things that we've seen happen, they've seen them do something with the heart, and we understand that we're not asking that the players not ask for something out of context just for that Accountability is managed and that people see this burden that many live, that a whole community, especially the black community, that these injustices happen
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"I think the club owners have been in one place for the past few years. Some have taken a little longer than others, but it becomes a heart problem." And they value humanity and understand that we must do this together. The players can't do it alone. The players understand that they cannot do without a club owner. Club owners understand that we all need to get to where we want to be as better society. "