It was the year 2017 and Colin Kaepernick was out of work when a group of black NFL employees sought an audience with senior leadership and the commissioner. They were granted that meeting in August in New York. The meeting happened while about a 1000 people protested for Coling outside the premises.
The employees had been defending the League at home to their family while thy themselves wondered about the values of the organisation that they served. Some of th questions they asked the management were:
- Where does the NFL stand on these issues that Kaep is kneeling for?
- Can you at least give us the confirmation that somebody is not being silenced for kneeling on issues that we care about?
- Why haven’t we said that we acknowledge racism and oppression and police brutality, and we condemn it?
Esé Ighedosa, leader of the NFL’s Black Engagement Network (BEN) said, “We wanted the NFL to say, ‘We condemn racism and oppression’, and ‘black lives matter’. The NFL wasn’t ready. They weren’t prepared to say the things that they needed to say.”
After watching the Roger Goodell video, she said, “It’s a full-circle moment. Everything that the commissioner said in his video, BEN asked him and the league to say three years ago. People have lost sleep over it. … That’s the story that needs to be told. Because it’s never been told before.”
She also spoke about the challenges as a Black person working for the NFL, “Once you get there, you’re constantly battling being grateful to be there, but also wanting the NFL to be a better place. How can I make an impact without alienating myself or causing problems?”
She added, “The NFL still hadn’t comprehended that they had transcended sports. In their minds, they do great work. They donate to a lot of organizations, and they help out a lot of people in need. … Why can’t the work speak for itself? That’s been the internal battle in the NFL: It’s not enough to just donate to the organizations that are helping with the problem. You have to use your platform. And when the NFL says something is wrong, when the NFL says, ‘black lives matter,’ that is so powerful. … You have a responsibility to your players, to your employees, to your fans, to speak on these issues and denounce certain things.”