NFL Players Urge League to Stand Against Racism in Powerful Video: 'We Will Not Be Silenced'


Several football stars are calling on the NFL to step up and combat racism within the league as it vows to "challenge the injustice around us."

In a new video on Thursday, a dozen athletes recorded a message urging the professional sports league to address racism and to "admit wrong in silencing [its] players from peacefully protesting."

The stars referred back to 2016 when Colin Kaepernick kicked off the #TakeAKnee movement by refusing to stand during the national anthem in protest against police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.

After opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017, the former quarterback, 32, has been unable to find a new team, but he continues his activism.

In the video — which features Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, recent Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, among others — the players say they "will not be silenced" and they "assert our right to peacefully protest." Many of the stars shared the clip on social media with the caption "Strong Together."

United, the players voice what they want the NFL to state: "We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people … admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting … [and] believe Black Lives Matter."

The NFL issued a statement on Thursday in support of Black Lives Matter, writing, "This is a time of self-reflection for all – the NFL is no exception. We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter."

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"Through Inspire Change, the NFL, Players and our partners have supported programs and initiatives throughout the country to address systemic racism. We will continue using our platform to challenge the injustice around us," continued the statement.

The league noted that it has donated $44 million to date in support of "hundreds of worthy organizations," acknowledging that "we can and need to do more." This year, the NFL said, it will pledge an "additional $20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work."

In a statement last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is "greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country."

"The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel," said Goodell, 61. "… As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league."

"These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts," he continued. "There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society.

Added Goodell: "We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners."

Goodell's comments were met with backlash, and some athletes have condemned the league as racist, including former player Martellus Bennett.

Said Bennett, "The fact is the nfl, much like this country, was built on the backs of black athletes. And they used the same systems that were designed during slavery and slave trade as a model to build it."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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