ahoo- Current and former NFL players campaigning for racial equality and criminal justice reform wrote a lengthy memo to league commissioner Roger Goodell officially seeking overt league support in their effort, including an endorsement for an activism awareness month, Yahoo Sports has learned.
The 10-page memo, obtained by Yahoo Sports, was sent to Goodell and executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent in August, requesting wide-ranging involvement in their movement from the NFL. The memo seeks an investment of time and education, political involvement, finances and other commitments from the league. It also sought to have the NFL endorse the month of November as an activism awareness month, similar to the periods of league calendar dedicated to breast cancer awareness and military recognition.
It was endorsed by four players: Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, former Buffalo Bills wideout Anquan Boldin, and Eagles wideout Torrey Smith.
A league spokesperson declined to comment on the memo or Goodell’s communication with specific NFL players. The four players who co-authored the letter either didn’t return requests for comment or declined to speak about it, citing an agreement to keep direct communications with Goodell private.
“To be clear, we are asking for your support,” a portion of the memo reads. “We appreciate your acknowledgement on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level. To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action.”
The memo was divided into three major parts: an overview of current player activism; a call for specific efforts and resources from the NFL to aid that activism; and a request for a league-wide initiative dedicating the month of November to activism awareness – similar to the league’s support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. The memo also included a potential timeline for the execution of wider-ranging NFL support, starting in late August 2018 and punctuated by a Sept. 9 “Announcement of Owners/Players Support goinagentg into opening day.” It finished with several pages of an addendum detailing specific aspects of criminal justice reform the players believe are necessary, including police accountability and transparency, bail reform, the criminalization of poverty and other areas.
I guess my only question is, how did it took Roger Goodell to open this letter? I suppose that we should just be happy that he did considering he left the video of Ray Rice going 'Wreck It Ralph' on his then girlfriend's jaw to collect dust, but still there's no way this was an "immediately open while standing in front of the mailbox" situation. At some point he probably realized it wasn't in his best interest to just pretend that an extremely intricate proposal from an outspoken group of socially active athletes didn't exist. However, I would venture to guess it took him until at least a day or two after Labor Day Weekend to slice open an intimidatingly sized parcel that was staring up at him from underneath his pile of piss test requests since late August.
There's just no way he saw that collection of names and mentally marked it as urgent. If I know one thing about the Commissioner of the NFL it's that promptness is most definitely not his thing when it requires him to work with subject matter that is actually serious. I think we've learned over the last year that the NFL doesn't exactly prioritize racially charged issues, so if you think that a 10 page memo aimed at getting them to put time, effort, and money into appropriately acknowledging them was 'Priority Mail' then you are beside your mind. If this was an overnight order for an American flag that spanned the entire length of a professional football field then Roger Goodell would have been tapping his foot on his stoop while impatiently waiting for the UPS driver, but a letter asking for a similarly contrived show of togetherness on behalf of black athletes looking for nothing more than equality? Yeaaaaah, no doubt that one was left to wait for a rainy day.