A group of pro football players is not satisfied with the NFL’s planned donations to social justice causes and thinks that the act is meant to quiet them and ease through the anthem protest controversy.
The NFL issued a notice to teams about the plan to donate to social causes that the players feel are important. But the act has caused a rift between players who have different understandings of what that money is being used for, and players who don’t feel that they were involved in the process despite being a part of the newly formed Players Coalition, ESPN reported.
Here are the memos sent to teams from NFL executives that provides an outline of the new community and social justice initiative. pic.twitter.com/CB3LyRcIll
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 1, 2017
The NFL promised to donate $89 million toward causes over seven years. The causes are supposedly relevant to what the players are protesting against. But some players feel that these represent an attempt to stop their pregame protests and aren’t really representative of what they really want to achieve.
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) November 29, 2017
Vocal opponents of the agreement between the Players Coalition and the NFL include 49ers safety Eric Reid, Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas, and Chargers tackle Russell Okung. They publically broke from the Players Coalition, citing that the coalition does not represent them and that the coalition made the donation agreement with the NFL without their involvement, according to ESPN.
Reid, who joined his former teammate Colin Kaepernick early on when the protesting began, expressed his feelings about the Players Coalition and the proposed agreements, in a tweet.
“The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes [sic] who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism. However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole.”
— Russell Okung (@RussellOkung) November 30, 2017
Reid told Slate that one of the coalition heads, Malcolm Jenkins, asked him if he would stand for the anthem as a result of the deal. Jenkins subsequently stopped protesting during the anthem, drawing the ire of those who want the protests to continue, according to Philadelphia magazine. But the NFL stated that the deal was not offered in exchange for ending the NFL’s anthem protest woes, according to a statement via The New York Times.
Another issue of Reid’s is about Colin Kaepernick’s continued absence from these discussions. Philadelphia hints that Jenkins has excluded Kaepernick so that he can become the face of the movement instead.
“For this to now be less about the actual work and more about who wants to be in the forefront or be the leader is disappointing,” Jenkins told ESPN. “It’s especially disappointing for us to hear this in the media and now be put in a position where we have to answer all of these questions. All of these conversations could have been between us as players. It’s a little bit disappointing.”
Opponents also worry that the money is simply being used to slap a bandage on the problems anthem protests have caused for the NFL’s image. The proposal still needs to get the agreement of NFL owners through a vote at annual league meetings set for March, according to ESPN.
Deadspin pointed out that the NFL’s other charitable efforts often turned into PR campaigns to boost the NFL’s image rather than action plans meant for results in those causes. The article also mentioned an instance of the NFL pulling funding from brain concussion research because the organization conducting that research was critical of the NFL. Reid also told Slate believes that the money is just being reallocated from initiatives the NFL already had going.
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