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Roger Goodell regrets not listening to Kaepernick more, says anthem kneelers are not unpatriotic


Many fans disagree

A protester, wearing a face mask featuring Colin Kaepernick kneeling, joins a protest in Washington, D.C., against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he regrets not having more dialogue with former quarterback Colin Kaepernick about social justice issues and said he now understands that players who kneel during the national anthem aren't being unpatriotic, ESPN reported.

What did he say?

"These are not people who are unpatriotic," Goodell told ESPN's Emmanuel Acho on the video series "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man." "They're not disloyal. They're not against our military. In fact, many of those guys were in the military, and they're a military family. And what they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. And that misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me."

Acho asked Goodell what he might say in a public apology to Kaepernick, and Goodell cited regret that he was not able to have more conversations with the player who started the social justice protest of kneeling during the national anthem. Goodell said the league should have listened more and really understood what Kaepernick and other players were protesting.

"That's where we should have listened sooner," Goodell said. "And that's where we should have been in there with them, understanding and figuring out what we can do as the NFL."

What is Kaepernick up to?

Kaepernick has spent the last several years as a high-profile social justice activist. His experience, which many characterize as having been blackballed from the NFL for his protests, has led to a lucrative book deal and several television and documentary opportunities.

The former quarterback stands as an influential voice and symbol in social justice circles, and his statement in the days following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has proven to be fitting for the unrest that has occurred since.

"When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction," Kaepernick wrote in a May 28 tweet that is pinned to the top of his profile. "The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance. We have the right to fight back!"

There have been protests and riots across the United States almost every night for the past three months, and the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday has sparked new riots in that city the past two nights.

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