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WATCH: NFL boss admits league was 'wrong' over protest response

Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football player Chris Conley addresses the crowd of teammates, staff and families on the steps of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office headquarters building, on June 5, in Jacksonville, Florida, as they protest against inequality and police brutality. Photo: Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP

Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football player Chris Conley addresses the crowd of teammates, staff and families on the steps of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office headquarters building, on June 5, in Jacksonville, Florida, as they protest against inequality and police brutality. Photo: Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP

Published Jun 6, 2020

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WASHINGTON - Roger Goodell, the National Football League (NFL)

commissioner, on Friday said that the league was wrong in not

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actively encouraging peaceful protests against racial injustice.

The video statement by Goodell is an astounding backtrack for the

NFL, which saw national controversy over a kneeling protest in 2016

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led by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The killing of George Floyd last week has sparked a national protest

movement and renewed scrutiny of the NFL and the league's

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relationship with its predominately black players.

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not

listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out an

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peacefully protest," Goodell said. "We the National Football League

believe black lives matter."

"Without black players there would be no National Football League,"

he said, without mentioning Kaepernick by name.

The action taken by the 32-year-old, who led the San Francisco 49ers

to the 2013 Super Bowl, came at a personal cost.

He did not renew his contract with the club when it expired in early

2017. Since then, he has not played an NFL game despite being widely

regarded as a high-quality quarterback.

US President Donald Trump, who has long been vocal on his opposition

to Kaepernick's actions and to kneeling protests in sports, meanwhile

doubled down on his stance.

Trump on Friday tweeted criticism of New Orleans Saints quarterback

Drew Brees for publicly apologizing over comments he made about

anti-racism protests.

Brees sparked fierce criticism from teammates and several leading US

athletes, including NBA superstar LeBron James, when he told Yahoo

news portal he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag

of the United States of America or our country."

In the apology on Instagram, he said his comments were "insensitive

and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now

as a country."

Trump wrote on Twitter that Brees "should not have taken back his

original stance on honoring our magnificent American flag."

"We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute,

or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not

our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!"

In a later post alongside an image with the words "To President

Trump," Brees wrote on Instagram that "this is not an issue about the

American flag."

"We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the

real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police

brutality, and judicial & prison reform," he wrote.

"We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and

suffering of our black communities," he added.

dpa

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