NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has reportedly reached an agreement with a coalition of players in which the league agrees to contribute $89 million to social causes over the next seven years
The NFL reached an agreement with a coalition of players to address a number of social justice issues with the help of an $89 million contribution from the league over the next seven years.
Specifically, the league’s pledge will address criminal justice reform efforts, law enforcement and community relations as well as education inequality, according to a report from ESPN.
The plan does not include a directive to end the ongoing protests in which players raise awareness of inequality and police brutality against minorities by sitting, kneeling, or raising a fist during the national anthem.
The NFL has yet to respond to a request for comment.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin discussed the proposal with around 40 players in the coalition, according to the report. The agreement represents the NFL’s largest contribution to a social issue, surpassing the efforts with Salute to Service and Breast Cancer awareness.
Former NFL football player Anquan Boldin, left, Philadelphia Eagles Malcolm Jenkins, center, and San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid, right, speak to the media outside the league’s headquarters after an October meeting in Manhattan. The players’ coalition was aimed at working with the league to help foster social change, but Reid and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas broke with the group on Wednesday, citing a disagreement with Boldin and Jenkins’ leadership
The agreement does not mean the players’ protests will be stopping anytime soon.
‘To be clear, there is no quid pro quo between the NFL and the Players Coalition that players will cease protesting in exchange for financial support from the owners,’ tweeted ESPN’s Jim Trotter. The league understands that some players will continue to protest, but it is seeking to move forward anyway.’
The reported agreement comes after two players expressed displeasure with the coalition. San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas said they are withdrawing by releasing the same statement on Wednesday.
Dolphins safety Michael Thomas (pictured) broke with the players’ coalition, along with 49ers safety Eric Reid (not pictured)
‘With much thought and consideration, I’ve decided to officially withdraw my involvement in The Players Coalition founded by Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin,’ the statement read.
‘The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism,’ the statement continued. ‘However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole.
‘We will continue to have dialogue with the league to find equitable solutions but without Malcolm and Anquan as our representative,’ the statement concluded.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was reportedly furious at the news that Reid and Thomas had withdrawn from the coalition.
Reid was the first player to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick, the embattled former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the protests and remains a free agent since opting out of his contract in March. Kaepernick has filed a lawsuit against the NFL, accusing all 32 owners of colluding against him in retaliation for his role in the controversial protests.
49ers safety Eric Reid (No. 35) kneels alongside now-former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick (No. 7) duirng a 2016 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Reid broke with the players’ coalition on Wednesday, citing a disagreement with the group’s leadership
Goodell has spent months working with the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent – himself a former All-Pro cornerback – to find a solution to the league’s ongoing public relations issues surrounding the controversial protests.
The league has thus far resisted any new rules, requiring players to stand for the national anthem despite ongoing criticism from President Donald Trump.
KAEPERNICK TO RETURN TO AN NFL FIELD – ON FORMER TEAMMATE’S SPIKES
Embattled free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick isn’t returning to the NFL quite yet, but his name and image will be on the field in Nashville this Sunday thanks to Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews.
Matthews, a former college teammate of Kaepernick’s at Nevada, will take part in the NFL’s ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ campaign by donning a pair of spikes with the former San Francisco 49ers star’s name and likeness, he announced Wednesday on Instagram.
‘I dont have a foundation so [I] have chosen to support my brother @kaepernick7 foundation @yourrightscamp for #MyCauseMyCleats,’ Matthews wrote of Kaepernick, who has remained unsigned since opting out of his contract with the 49ers in March.
The ‘Know Your Rights Camp’ is a campaign that Kaepernick funded to ‘raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios,’ according to the organization’s website.
Tennessee Titans WR Rishard Matthews
Trump previously referred to protesting players as ‘sons of b******’ and in a series of tweets suggested that the NFL’s declining ratings are a response to the peaceful demonstrations.
Goodell previously stated that it’s the league’s position that ‘everyone’ should stand for the national anthem but has stopped short of requiring anyone to do so.
NFL ratings are down for the season, but it’s difficult to say that the controversial protests are the only factor.
Viewership was down about 5 percent over the first seven weeks of the NFL season, according to CNN. However, that decline is part of an overall downtick in ratings across all networks.
Fox’s primetime viewership was down 20 percent through the first month of the new television season, according to Nielsen data, while ABC (11 percent), CBS (6 percent), and NBC (four percent) have all seen a decline as well.
The NFL’s ratings have even recovered somewhat in recent weeks, as Seattle and Atlanta’s ‘Monday Night Football’ game on November 20 drew a 7.2 in metered markets for ESPN, according to Deadline.com. That was a 16 percent rise over the Miami-Carolina MNF game on November 13.
Still, many fans have cited the protests as a reason they have stopped watching the NFL, which is why Goodell is eager to establish a plan with the players’ coalition before next week’s meetings in Dallas.
The NFL’s proposal addresses both national and local needs.
Nationally, owners will earmark $5 million this year with their donations growing to $12 million annually between 2021 and 2023.
Locally, owners will donate $250K per team with the players expected to match those contributions.
The deal also calls for fundraising opportunities as well as telethons and auctions of game-worn jerseys.
Some of the funds that will receive the NFL’s donations include the United Negro College Fund, Dream Corps, and a large donation to the Players Coalition, which reportedly filed 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) paperwork to gain nonprofit status as a charity.
The Players Coalition is primarily continuing the work started by Kaepernick, who was named GQ’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ after donating $900K of his $1 million pledge to organizations working within oppressed communities.
Despite a series of injuries and general poor play among NFL quarterbacks this season, Kaepernick has remained unsigned. Consequently, the 30-year old has filed a lawsuit against the NFL, accusing all 32 owners of conspiring to prevent him from returning to the league in retaliation for igniting the controversial protests.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins (left with his arm raised) and defensive end Chris Long (right) stand during the national anthem before an August exhibition against Buffalo
A coalition of advocacy groups ‘take a knee’ outside of a hotel where the quarterly NFL league meetings were held on October 17, 2017 in Manhattan
In six seasons, Kaepernick helped guide the 49ers to three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl while completing 59.8 percent of his passes and 72 touchdown passes. He also threw only 30 interceptions over that time, helping him to post a very respectable quarterback rating of 88.9.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and injured Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers have both stated they believe Kaepernick has the ability to continue starting in the NFL. Brady declined to say whether or not Kaepernick is being blackballed, but Rodgers told ESPN that the protests are likely the only reason he’s not in the NFL.
‘He has paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to bring true everyday issues to light,’ Kaepernick’s former collegiate teammate at Nevada and current Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews wrote on Instagram. (See box)
Goodell will be deposed as part of Kaepernick’s collusion case against the football league.
President Donald Trump has criticized protesting NFL players, calling them ‘sons of b******’
The Commissioner, several owners and at least two NFL executives will have to turn over cellphone records and emails in relation to the case, a legal insider told ESPN.
NFL owners who will be deposed include Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, New England’s Robert Kraft, Bob McNair of the Houston Texans, Seattle’s Paul Allen and San Francisco’s Jed York.
The owners were selected based on their public statements about Kaepernick or players protesting during the pre-game national anthem.
Along with Goodell, league executives who will be disposed include Vincent and senior vice president of player engagement Arthur McAfee, the insider told ESPN.
Recently Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos predicted his client’s imminent return to the NFL.
‘I think within the next 10 days somebody will sign him,’ Garagos told the Adam Carolla podcast in late October. ‘I think somebody’s gonna sign him. I think the NFL has to come to their senses, and realize every day that goes by just proves the collusion case even more.’
According to the lawsuit, ‘[The owners] have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.’