Roger Goodell admitted in a video that the league has erred in how it has dealt with NFL player protests of police brutality and systemic racism over the past few years.
The video, which ran for 1 minute, 21 seconds, was a response to a series of requests put forth Thursday by more than a dozen star players, including Pro Bowl quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Players asked the NFL to condemn racism and admit wrong in previous attempts to silence peaceful protests and to affirm that black lives matter.
"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," Goodell said. "We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter."
Goodell went on to say that he would begin connecting with players who are making their voices heard and added: "Without black players, there would be no National Football League, and the pros around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff."
He continued: "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 for a better and more united NFL family."
Michael Thomas was a key organizer of the video.
Colin Kaepernick began to peacefully protest racial injustices by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. Kaepernick has never been offered a contract from an NFL team since he was released in 2017.