As protests rage on across the country following the death of George Floyd and other victims of racial violence and injustice, plenty of organizations have put out statements in support of those seeking justice. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did so this evening, to very mixed reactions.
"The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country," commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in the league's statement. "The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel. Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those who have lost loved ones, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, the cousin of Tracy Walker of the Detroit Lions."
The sentiment shares that of many of the other organizations that have chosen to speak out. And yet, it is hard to deny that it rings pretty hollow given recent NFL history. Plenty have brought up the continued unemployment of quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response.
"As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners," the statement continues.
The death of George Floyd is the exact kind of tragedy that Kaepernick protested during his most recent year in the league. The league settled a lawsuit launched by the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and teammate Eric Reid, alleging that the league conspired against a team signing them. Reid eventually signed with the Carolina Panthers, while Kaepernick, who popularized the protest in which players took a knee during the national anthem ahead of NFL games, has not been in the league since 2016.
Kaepernick's actions are a prime example of the "peaceful protest" that critics of the ongoing nationwide demonstrations have called for, but a few years ago he effectively lost his job and received significant pushback for his actions.
The NFL had to say something, and the chances of them directly addressing the ongoing Colin Kaepernick situation were slim-to-none, but the statement that Roger Goodell put out was perfect in its ability to make exactly zero people happy.