Roger Goodell's Video

Don’t just talk about it, be about it. 

Jim Rome
June 08, 2020 - 9:49 am
Colin Kaepernick

USA Today

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The last two weeks have felt like a moment. It feels like it could be a really significant moment. Because things are happening. On Friday, Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand announced they were contributing 100 million dollars over the next ten years to “protecting and improving the lives of Black people through actions dedicated towards racial equality, social justice and education.”

That is a huge statement by a guy who is known for making almost no statements when it comes to social issues. And he didn’t just make a pledge, he talked about it as well, telling the Charlotte Observer: “We have been beaten down (as African Americans) for so many years. It sucks your soul. You can’t accept it anymore. This is a tipping point. We need to make a stand. We’ve got to be better as a society regarding race.”

And calling on the country to “Face up to your demons. Extend a hand. Understand the inequalities. Sure, it’s about bargaining for better policing, but it’s more. We have encountered racism to be somewhat acceptable in certain circles.”

That is the absolute truth. And that announcement was followed by Roger Goodell making a statement of his own.

You’ll recall that on Thursday, a number of superstar players released the following video.

It turns out that video was organized by a content creator for the NFL and Michael Thomas. In other words, someone who creates content for the league was so embarrassed by what the league had done to that point, that he reached out to Thomas via Instagram DM and they collaborated on the video. That is awesome.

Friday morning, the league had a virtual town hall and numerous employees reportedly spoke up, speaking out about how they were “angry” and “exasperated” by how little the league had done.

And then Friday evening, this video dropped.

There are a couple of ways of looking at that video. It’s Roger Goodell specifically addressing the video from the players and responding directly to what they wanted to hear. So that’s a positive.

We could discuss the fact that they released it late on a Friday, which isn’t exactly the time of day or week that you release something you really believe in. Friday afternoon and evening are the place were statements and stories go to vanish.

But maybe you give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you say the video came out late on Friday because it took the league that long to respond to the video from the players. Fine.

And if you’re feeling charitable you could say it’s a positive that the league went some way towards owning their role in this. Sort of. Kind of.

And it’s not good enough to say that’s as close as a commissioner will come to completely owning something. Why? Why is the bar that low? Why can’t you fully own it?

But there is a very obvious person who was left out of what the league was saying – Colin Kaepernick. And until the league addresses that, all of this is just talk.

You can’t make that statement and expect people to believe you, without mentioning his name specifically. That is just weird and awkward and frankly, plays everyone for a fool.

Because everyone knows. We have all been here for the last four years. We know how the league responded to Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests. And to not own up to that, to not take the obvious step of saying his name is ridiculous. 

Here’s the other part about the statement from Roger Goodell: it came from Roger Goodell. It’s one thing for Roger Goodell to say it, but it’s another for his bosses to be about it.

Because the 32 owners are the ones who are the real issue here. It’s those 32 who have refused to give Colin Kaepernick a look. It’s that group of 32 that includes owners who said they would not tolerate players who peacefully protested racist police brutality during the national anthem.

It’s those 32 owners who continue to hire white head coaches and white general managers in disproportionate numbers. It’s those 32 owners who make the Rooney Rule into a complete and utter joke.

The Friday evening statement is not the end of something. If it’s going to matter at all, it needs to be the start of something. You can’t release that statement, cross that off the list, and go back to planning for training camps.

That statement needs to be the start. And people will judge the league, the commissioner, and the owners on what they do next. Because if any of this is going to mean anything, it can’t be about words, it has to be about actions.  

Don’t just talk about it, be about it.