The owner of the Buffalo Bills thinks the NFL needs a representative, preferably a black player, to smooth things over with people who have a problem with anthem protests.
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair called on players to “ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business,” in reference to the protests Colin Kaepernick started two years ago.
These are just a two of the most shocking revelations to come out of an audio recording of last year’s summit between 30 NFL players and owners obtained by the New York Times. The three-hour meeting took place in New York about a month after President Trump blasted demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice during the national anthem and called kneeling NFL players “sons of bitches.”
“Let’s make sure that we keep this confidential,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the start of the meeting.
Here are the six biggest takeaways from the meeting Goodell probably wishes remained under wraps.
THEY TALKED ABOUT KAEPERNICK
They sure did. Players told the owners they felt that Kaepernick was being blackballed for his politics.
“If he was on a roster right now, all this negativeness and divisiveness could be turned into a positive,” Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long said, adding, “we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster.”
According to the Times, owners were “noncommittal.”
ERIC REID CALLED OUT OWNERS DIRECTLY
Former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, dressed in a Kaepernick T-shirt, challenged the owners in the room.
“I feel like he was hung out to dry,” Reid said. “Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us … Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”
THE NFL NEEDS A BLACK SPOKESMAN, SAYS WHITE OWNER
Bills owner Terry Pegula thinks the NFL needs a spokesman, preferably a player, and even more preferably a black player, to combat its “media problem.”
“For years we’ve watched the National Rifle Association use Charlton Heston as a figurehead,” Pegula said, adding, “For us to have a face, as an African-American, at least a face that could be in the media, we could fall in behind that.”
Not for nothing, but this could have been Kaepernick. There is a not a black owner in the NFL with Jaguars owner Shadid Khad being the lone minority among the current group.
KNEELING: ‘THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM’
This was very important for the owners to talk about because it was impacting their money, although the players had to bring it up. TV ratings were slipping and sponsors were concerned about public perception of the protests. Patriots owner and Meek Mill advocate Bob Kraft referred to the anthem demonstrations as the “elephant in the room.”
Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula said, “We’re getting hit with a tsunami.”
Texans owner Bob McNair, who infamously uttered the “inmates” comment at the same meeting, was vocal about his desire to put an end to the anthem protests.
“You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business,” McNair told the players, “let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you.”
SOME NFL OWNERS ARE ANNOYED WITH TRUMP
Kraft, a friend of the president’s and a generous campaign backer, blasted Trump for spewing “divisive” and “horrible” rhetoric.
“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” Kraft said. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
It was previously reported that Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, who supported Hillary Clinton in the election, called Trump’s presidency “(expletive) disastrous” in the meeting.
“We’ve got to be careful not to be baited by Trump or whomever else,” Lurie said. “We have to find a way to not be divided and not get baited.”
OTHERS FEAR HIM
Terry expressed a level of fear when discussing Trump’s ability to rile up a lot of people.
“All Donald needs to do is to start to do this again,” he said. “We need some kind of immediate plan because of what’s going on in society. All of us now, we need to put a Band-Aid on what’s going on in the country.”
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, another Trump supporter, said whatever damage Trump could possibly inflict on the league “is done.”
In the end, the Times characterized the meeting as the players and owners mostly talking past each other on these divisive issues. About a month after the meeting, the NFL pledged to donate $89 million to social causes in an effort to address some of the issues players are clearly passionate about.
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