‘We, the NFL, Believe Black Lives Matter’

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:

We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.

Maybe you won’t accept this apology. The NFL’s handling of this saga may well be unforgivable. Rightfully, this should include an apology to Colin Kaepernick by name.

But that is an apology, and it is a nearly complete about-face from an organization that is, to say the least, not known for about-faces. This is notable not for what the apology says about the NFL, but what the NFL’s apology says about how dramatically the lines have shifted in American public sentiment in the past week. It’s not “good for the NFL that they finally apologized”, it’s “good for America that the NFL sensed they were wrong and had to apologize”.

I keep thinking about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s words earlier this week: “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.”

There’s a lot of sun being let in right now.

Friday, 5 June 2020