Roger Goodell finally did the right thing.
It took him long enough.
“We the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” he said.
Perhaps he could’ve been more direct, but let’s say it out loud — the league was wrong for pushing back when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and many others decided to protest during the national anthem a few years ago to shine a lot on systemic racism and police brutality.
It only took the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the nationwide protests that have since followed and a powerful video posted by some of the NFL’s brightest stars on Thursday night demanding action to get Goodell off his you-know-what.
It’s about time.
Across the NFL, teams released statements over the last week or so that simply weren’t strong enough. Hardly any of them even denounced police brutality, and some, including the Giants, didn’t even specifically mention racism.
Thursday night, a cadre of NFL stars — including Giants’ Saquon Barkley, Browns’ Odell Beckham, Jets’ Jamal Adams, Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Texans’ Deshaun Watson — put out a video demanding that the NFL acknowledge police brutality, racism and the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It also demanded that the league admit that they were wrong to try to silence their protests, something that Saints quarterback Drew Brees learned the hard way this week.
This is a step in the right direction.
Words are important. But they aren’t enough.
Goodell needs to put his money where his mouth is.
Maybe, in the first game of the NFL season, in front of tens of millions of viewers on a Thursday night, he should walk down onto the field and kneel alongside the black players in the league that are a large part of the reason why he’s one of the richest men in sports.
It’s the least he can do.
That’s what Goodell has done so far — the least he can do.
Friday night’s message from Goodell was a step in the right direction.
Perhaps it was too little, too late.
But too late is better than never.