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NFL to formally endorse criminal justice reform bill

The endorsement comes the week NFL owners are to meet in New York to discuss a rule that would require players to stand for the national anthem.

Atlanta Falcons Practice Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

On Monday, the NFL will to formally endorse the Grassley-Durbin criminal justice reform bill, according to NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart.

The bill, according to Iowa senator Chuck Grassley’s website, is aimed to “recalibrate prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, target violent and career criminals, and save taxpayer dollars.”

Along with this, the legislation is supposed to offer “more judicial discretion at sentencing for offenders with minimal criminal histories and helps inmates successfully reenter society.”

The NFL, along with Doug Baldwin, released a letter on Tuesday:

The bill was first introduced in 2015, failed, and re-introduced on Oct. 4 this year at a press conference.

Colin Kaepernick has donated to to organizations looking for reform in many areas, including criminal justice in his $1 million pledge he started since taking a knee during the national anthem. Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation in Chicago is one of those organizations, where he donated $25,000.

The NFL’s endorsement of the legislation comes the week its owners are set to meet in New York to discuss a potential rule that would require players to stand for the national anthem.

From the joint NFL-NFLPA statement last week on the meeting, the goal is to seek “a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized.”

The national anthem became a talking point in the NFL last season after Kaepernick started sitting for in protest of the police brutality and inequalities that people of color in America still face today. Kaepernick switched from sitting to a kneel, and other players followed his example.

However, the anthem discussion took another turn this season when President Donald Trump called players who kneeled “sons of bitches” who should be fired. It led to a wave of other demonstrations that had Kaepernick’s original message being diluted in some cases.

Vice President Mike Pence would leave a Colts game against the 49ers two weeks later after 49ers players kneeled for the anthem, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said players who “disrespect the flag” would not play.

So what does this all mean? The league’s endorsement of the legislation appears to be part of an effort where the NFL gives an effort on the issues that Kaepernick raised, while also being able to set themselves up to require players to stand for the national anthem.

Whether or not that rule comes to fruition will be determined this week.