NFL's Roger Goodell Admits the League Was 'Wrong' For Not Listening to Players Who Protested

"[We] admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," Roger Goodell said in a video message

Roger Goodell
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell formally apologized for ignoring players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism over the last several seasons.

Yet, in the video posted to social media on Friday, Goodell did not explicitly mention Colin Kapernick, who helped to start the movement as a player on the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.

The commissioner's remarks come more than a week after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

"It has been a difficult time for our country," Goodell said in the video, posted to Instagram. "In particular, black people in our country. First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality."

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people," he continued. "[We] admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

The #TakeAKnee movement was famously sparked by Kaepernick when he refused to stand during the national anthem before NFL games in protest of police brutality and racial injustice in the United States. Many players in the league, and across other sports, joined in the on the protest by kneeling or participating with their own variations.

In May 2018, NFL owners voted unanimously to approve a policy that would fine teams for players who kneel during the national anthem. But that decision was later postponed for a later date, according to Rolling Stone, after the Miami Dolphins threatened to fine players for four games if they took a knee.

"We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter," Goodell said in his video statement. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League, and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff."

Eli Harold #58, Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest on the sideline, during the anthem
Colin Kaepernick. Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty

"We are listening, I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward a better and more united NFL family," he added.

Goodell's statement comes a day after a collection of NFL players released a joint video that called for the league to do more about racial inequality.

RELATED VIDEO: Colin Kaepernick Announces He Is Releasing a Memoir: 'I Want to Tell the Story of My Evolution'

"On behalf of the National Football League, this is what we the players would like to hear you state," the players say in the video.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people," they added. "We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero ( which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies. works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement ( provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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