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NFL pledges $90 million to social justice, punts on rules for national anthem

Eric Reid (35), Colin Kaepernick (7), and Eli Harold (58) of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem before a 2016 NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Santa Clara, California. In response to the players protests, the NFL has pledged millions toward social justice initiatives. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

NFL teams will provide $90 million toward social justice initiatives after all 32 teams agreed Monday to a program that will match funds for local initiatives, reported.

Why are they doing that?

Over the past year, NFL players have staged prominent social justice protests, including the controversial kneeling demonstrations during the national anthem.

A coalition of players has been negotiating with the NFL about what the league can do to appease the protesters, which began with former quarterback Colin Kapernick’s protests of police brutality.

That coalition broke down late last season as players disagreed about the overall agenda they would address when meeting with the NFL. Was it important that Kaepernick get a job in the NFL before moving forward (Kaepernick has filed a grievance claiming the owners have blackballed him)? Or was the big picture of social justice and community engagement the primary goal?

Numerous players separated from the coalition over that disagreement, but coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles pushed forward and came to an agreement with the league that led to Monday's decision.

During the annual League Meeting in Orlando earlier this week, owners and executives solidified the agreement to support causes important to the players. From

[T]he league said it plans to work closely with players, teams and other groups in the new and expanded community improvement program. The NFL Foundation contributed $3 million in initial funding for the program.

What does this mean for anthem protests?

Some players have already said they plan to stop protesting during the national anthem before games. However, the league still hasn’t come to any formal solution to address those that still choose to protest.

According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, "there will be continued discussion of a game day policy for the national anthem, but no rule changes were proposed and no votes were taken Monday."

Rapoport also reported that the anthem protests "will likely be a subject of ongoing discussion" that could be picked up again at the Spring League Meeting in May.

Players are currently not required to stand for the national anthem.

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