In response to players’ continued protests, the NFL has proposed committing $89 million over seven years to social justice causes considered important to the African-American community. It is an unprecedented move by a major pro sports league. ESPN reports that the league and a group of players agreed to the plan in principle during a conference call on Wednesday evening. The league’s money will go to support causes such as law enforcement/community relations, education, and criminal justice reform. It is the league’s largest contribution to any social issue.
One of the most interesting aspects of the deal is that nowhere in the agreement are the players called to end their on-field protests that include kneeling or not taking the field during the national anthem. This has been a rather polarizing issue started by quarterback Colin Kaepernick and then grown from ongoing criticism by President Donald Trump. The league hopes that by addressing the issues in this manner, the player will no longer feel the need to protest.
The money will start with $5 million this year, growing to $12 million a year for 2021, 2022, and 2023. On the local level, owners will put $250,000 aside with layers expected to match, totaling $500,000 per team. There will also be other fundraising opportunities like auctioning game-worn gear and telethons.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has been raising his fist in protest during the national anthem, has said he does not plan to continue his protests. Jenkins told ESPN:
“The reason I started raising my fist in the first place is to draw awareness to injustices in this country, disenfranchised people of color. I wanted to draw awareness. And so I think what the league is proposing is a platform and a campaign similar to what they’ve done with breast cancer awareness, My Cause, My Cleats, Salute to Service, but hopefully in an even bigger manner. And if we’re able to amplify our voices to showcase those causes, those issues, to highlight grass-roots organizations who are doing the work and need support, to tell the stories of those people who have been wronged or left out, I think that’s even more valuable than the cash amount. So hopefully, in good faith, that gets built out. All of this really is in good faith, and I think if the league continues to come through or deliver on their word, then I see no need to go back to what I was doing.”
Jenkins says his decision to no longer protest applies to this Sunday’s game.
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