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NFL pledges quarter of a billion dollars to fight systemic racism

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during a

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during a season ticket member fan forum before practice at the Cleveland Browns training camp facility on Aug. 17, 2017. Credit: AP/Tony Dejak

The NFL is putting a quarter of a billion dollars where its mouth is.

Less than a week after Roger Goodell’s video statement that the NFL was wrong to not listen closely during protests of racial inequities and police violence, and in which he declared that “Black Lives Matter” and promised to be part of change, the league on Thursday pledged $250 million over the next 10 years to fund what it says will “combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans.” 

The NFL had already donated $44 million to social justice programs the past four years. The NFL said it will work with players to identify and work with programs that address criminal justice reform, police reform and economic and educational advancement.

NFL.com cited a person familiar with the league’s program as saying the NFL would be “open and willing” to work with Colin Kaepernick on initiatives. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016, the season in which his protests during the pregame national anthem became a lightning rod for controversy. Since the death of George Floyd three weeks ago, Kaepernick’s protests have been seen in a different way by many who once scorned him. That includes the NFL itself.

"We wouldn't be where we are today without the work Colin and other players have led off," the NFL.com source said. "That is a key point here. We listened to our players. We needed to listen more, we needed to move faster…The players have always been an essential piece of this effort and this campaign. It would be awesome to engage Colin on some of the work we are doing.”

In addition to the financial commitment, the NFL promised in its announcement of the contribution to continue to “leverage the NFL Network and all of our media properties to place an increased emphasis on raising awareness and promoting education of social justice issues to our fans and help foster unity.”

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