Time for NFL owners to make impact off the field?

Calls for influential leaders to enact change

Sally Jenkins viewpoint

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Athletes, coaches, and owners from various professional leagues have weighed in on the anger and unrest in our nation following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer a week ago, and that includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who issued a statement on Saturday saying the league was "greatly saddened by the tragic events".

Many NFL players saw this as the height of hypocrisy, considering Colin Kaepernick's banishment from the league for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality against the black community.

And Sally Jenkins, the longtime Washington Post columnist, saw the same thing, writing a column that same day comparing the harm of Kaepernick’s knee to that of the cop’s knee, and asking readers to choose a knee to defend.

You can still debate Kaepernick's football future, even though it's a long shot he'll ever return, but Jenkins' point is this: this is the time for NFL owners to stand up and initiate real change.

"I think what people would like to see is NFL owners, who are the richest and most influential individuals in their cities, stand up and advocate for real police reform," Jenkins told 19 News on Monday. "Zero tolerance. Loss of pension. Loss of job. Criminal charges reform. I don't know one American, one right-thinking American right now who can live with one more minute of this."

We asked Jenkins if she thinks fans care about players and their communities off the field. She’d like to think they do, because fans hold teams and athletes to higher standards.

As for players speaking out, some may not like it. But it's necessary for change.

"Some people want them (athletes) to be more active, some people say they should just 'shut up and dribble'," Jenkins says. "I think where we go from here societally, hopefully we go to a point where we go 'these aren't other people's issues. These are all of our issues. The welfare of my brother who is a black sportswriter in the press box with me is my concern, and the welfare of a white teammate is a black teammate's concern.

“We’re all each other’s concern. Not his issue or my issue. Our issue.”

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