On Sunday, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett joined the ranks of NFL players who are sitting or taking a knee during the national anthem in support of racial equality. Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the topic during an Arizona Cardinals fan forum, but there wasn’t much substance to his statement.
Goodell opened by pointing out that people have different perspectives.
“The national anthem is a special moment to me,” Goodell said. “It’s a point of pride. That is a really important moment. But we also have to understand the other side, that people do have rights and we have to respect those.”
Goodell went on to say, though, that there’s a time and a place for these protests.
“And that's what we all have to sort of understand,” Goodell said. “The responsibility of doing it at the right time and in the right way.”
Roger Goodell on players taking a knee during the national anthem (speaking during a Arizona Cardinals fan forum) pic.twitter.com/DRyDk5ygxA— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) August 15, 2017
Colin Kaepernick was the first to protest during the national anthem last preseason, first by remaining seated, and later by taking a knee. Kaepernick did so to raise awareness about oppression and police brutality against people of color.
Since Kaepernick’s protest began, he has also worked tirelessly in the community, from providing suits to parolees for job interviews to helping secure a plane to take food, water, and aid to Somalians. Kaepernick also pledged $1 million in support to various charities and community efforts, and is making good on that promise.
Goodell did praise the good work other players like Brandon Marshall and Doug Baldwin are doing in their communities. But Kaepernick, who remains unsigned amid speculation that he’s being blackballed over last season’s anthem protest, was noticeably absent from Goodell’s comments.
Kaepernick met with the Seahawks this offseason, but no deal materialized. The Ravens have a glaring need at quarterback with Joe Flacco out with a back injury and a not-very-good backup in Ryan Mallett. Baltimore opted to sign Thad Lewis instead.
Kaepernick has said that he will not continue his protest this season if he does land with a team, but that hasn’t calmed Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti’s concerns about the quarterback.
Goodell wasn’t the only person asked about anthem protests this week. Browns coach Hue Jackson said he realizes players have a right to protest, but that doesn’t mean he’s on board with it.
The violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., where a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of people, injuring 19 and killing one, highlight the need for thoughtful discourse about race in America. That’s what players are trying to accomplish with the anthem protests, and given the ongoing — and often heated — discussion on this topic, the protests are raising awareness of inequality.
Roger Goodell’s vague comments about the protests don’t accomplish anything.