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Goodell’s video tells us the NFL knows it’s at a critical moment in history. It doesn’t want to be left behind

Goodell’s video tells us the NFL knows it’s at a critical moment in history. It doesn’t want to be left behind
Sports
It was just a grainy, 81-second video filmed from his home, but if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell meant what he said Friday evening, he has changed the nation’s most popular sports league forever.

As Goodell uttered the words “we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier,” who in the sports universe, and probably the entire country, didn’t immediately picture Colin Kaepernick? Who didn’t think of the way the league shunned and blackballed the former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl quarterback, mischaracterizing his message of non-violent protest and passing him over for jobs time and again over the past four years?

It’s worth asking why Goodell didn’t apologize to Kaepernick by name in his extraordinary statement. Perhaps an NFL lawyer nixed the idea. Perhaps the apology, public or private, is coming some other time.

More important, perhaps now, finally, an NFL team will sign Kaepernick, which is exactly what should happen, and soon. Friday night would have been nice. The league now needs him more than he needs the league. Perhaps Goodell providing cover for the team who will sign him is enough of an apology, at least for one night, although “cover” is the wrong word now. The team that brings in Kaepernick will be celebrated throughout the nation. Teams should be falling over themselves to do it.

If you’re out there still doubting the magnitude of the past two weeks in U.S. history, doubt no more. Children will be studying this time 100 years from now. Goodell’s video tells us he knows that, and he does not want to be left behind.

“The protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of Black players, coaches, fans and staff,” he said. “We are listening. I am listening.”

Perhaps the most interesting sentence in his video was this: “I personally protest with you, and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country.”

Does this mean he will kneel with players if we have football this fall? How can it not mean that? The national outpouring of grief and anger over police brutality, social injustice and the oppression of African-Americans in the wake of the signals massive protests once sports return. Goodell would be in good company if he joined players to kneel during the national anthem.

Let’s take this a step further. What about the repugnant team nickname for the Washington NFL franchise, a racist name I prefer not to mention? It’s long past time for that name to disappear. And the terrible tomahawk chop of the Kansas City Chiefs. (We’re looking at you too, Atlanta Braves.)

If Goodell is serious about what he said, and there’s no reason to believe he isn’t, then it sounds like he will work to get rid of names and rituals such as these. And if that’s where he is headed, then this truly is the watershed moment it appears to be.

There’s one person who probably didn’t like Goodell’s statement, and he’s located just across the street from the newly-named Black Lives Matter Plaza in the White House. Think about what Goodell did Friday evening; he defied U.S. President Donald Trump , who at a 2017 political rally called players who took a knee during the anthem a “son of a bitch.”

Even earlier Friday, Trump praised Drew Brees’ original comment about standing, rather than kneeling, for the national anthem — which .
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