Back in October, NFL owners, players, and executives held a closed-door meeting about the national anthem protest controversy, and now, the details of that discussion have been unearthed.
The New York Times published a report exposing what went on during that private, confidential meeting based on an audio recording they obtained.
One major highlight from the meeting was players discussing the unemployment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the whole take a knee movement. Apparently, many of the players felt he should have been picked up by a team.
“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 at the meeting, adding, "We all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster.”
Additionally, they addressed the widespread belief that Kaepernick is being blackballed by the league for sparking the contentious protest.
“I feel like he was hung out to dry,” said Kaepernick’s former teammate Eric Reid, who was the first to kneel with him. “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.”
Noting that he didn’t want to “lecture any team” on who to sign, Long asserted, “we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster.”
The conversation also turned to President Donald Trump and his social media attacks against the NFL and individual players. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots said that the issue 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. It’s divisive, and it’s horrible.”
Team owners also collectively expressed concern over how Trump’s condemnation results in the league losing fans.
“All Donald needs to do is to start to do this again,” Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula 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.”
Although the press wasn’t allowed to attend the meeting, the league released a joint statement directly following it, doubling down on their commitment to work toward change.
“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities," the statement read. "NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.”
In the months since the meeting, it’s unclear whether the group has reconvened. But there certainly doesn’t appear to have been any action taken. Kaepernick is still unemployed, police brutality is still in full swing, and NFL players are still being targeted for speaking out.
Now that the contents of their meeting have been released, the public can better hold the league accountable for its promises that have yet to be fulfilled.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Carlo Allegri