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NFL players who've protested national anthem want league to endorse social activism month, memo says

Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks, sits during the playing of the national anthem, He recently joined several other players in writing a memo and asking the NFL to endorse the month of November as a social activism awareness month, Yahoo Sports reported. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

What memo?

  • A 10-page memo penned by three NFL players and one former player asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to endorse the month of November as a social activism awareness month to go along with the memo writers' campaign for racial equality and criminal justice reform, Yahoo Sports reported.
  • The August memo said the social activism awareness month should be handled like other awareness months the league endorses, such as attention to breast cancer and the military, the outlet said.
  • The memo writers also want the league to invest money, education and political involvement, Yahoo Sports noted.
  • Other areas of attention include police accountability and transparency, bail reform, and the criminalization of poverty, the outlet noted.

Who wrote the memo?

  • Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and wide receiver Torrey Smith, along with former Buffalo Bills receiver Anquan Boldin, the outlet said.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (Elsa/Getty Images)

  • Bennett recently accused Las Vegas police of brutality and racial profiling over an August incident in which the defensive end said he was unlawfully detained after attending the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. Police denied Bennett's accusations.
  • Bennett and Jenkins have participated in national anthem protests, Yahoo Sports said, adding that all four memo writers have been outspoken regarding social issues.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins (middle) raises a fist during the national anthem. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

How did the NFL respond?

  • A league spokesperson declined to comment on the memo or Goodell’s communication with specific NFL players, the outlet said.
  • The memo writers either didn’t return requests for comment or declined to speak about it, citing an agreement to keep direct communications with Goodell private, Yahoo Sports added.
  • Sources familiar with the letter said it was written after Goodell spoke with players in August — including some who've participated in national anthem protests — about moving player activism into a progressive direction, the outlet said.

This writer's perspective

The NFL can endorse causes such as fighting breast cancer — and devote an entire month to raising awareness about it — with no flak from the public because virtually no one disagrees with fighting breast cancer.

The problem is the effort to place social activism and social justice on the same platform as causes such as breast cancer awareness. Not everyone agrees with every aspect of every social justice cause. And yet players want a month to highlight them.

If such a month comes to pass, the NFL would be guilty of telling its audience how to think.

Things are bad enough for the league already. Ratings have been slipping since former quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the trend of not standing for the national anthem last season. Critics have said other players against anthem protests are afraid to speak out. And yet Goodell allegedly wants to move player activism into a progressive direction?

At what point does the NFL cease morphing into a sociopolitical megaphone and get back to just playing the game?

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