The NFL’s attitude toward the ongoing protests of police brutality and racial injustice has seen a tectonic change in the past month. Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement saying the league “was wrong” for not listening to players fighting for racial equality, marking a dramatic change for the NFL.

The protests, which started after George Floyd, an African-American, died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd’s death has sparked nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality. Those are the same issues that prompted quarterback Colin Kaepernick to begin kneeling during the national anthem in during the 2016 season.

NFL players have been at the forefront of the current protests during the offseason and they plan to kneel “en masse” during the national anthem during regular season games, according to a report.

“Based on what I am hearing from the player and agent community, I believe they will kneel en masse in a large-scale display of solidarity with those who continue to protest in the streets against police brutality and the systematic killing of people for the color of their skin. So many NFL players and, now, even coaches and front office types are actively engaged in the movement sweeping the country and the world, walking and shouting for change, that there is a strong sense there is no going back now.” — cbssports.com

The players who did kneel in past seasons were heavily criticized by many, including some owners and President Donald Trump. However, the mood of the nation is rapidly tilting in favor of the protests and players are likely to feel more emboldened to kneel during a game. In fact, the report speculates Goodell himself could join the players on the field.

“It’s fair to contemplate an opening slate of games in which players – and maybe owners – are no longer locked in arms, but rather on their knees. Perhaps with Goodell among them.” — cbssports.com

— Geoffrey C. Arnold

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