"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said. “We the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," Goodell said.
— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
“We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League," he added.
"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," he continued.
Goodell's statement comes after 10 days of nationwide protests in the wake of unarmed black man George's Floyd's death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The NFL's message also comes after several of the league's players released a video following Floyd's death, highlighting police brutality and racism in the US.
In the video, the players call on the NFL to condemn racism and express solidarity with the many black people, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, who have been killed by US police. The NFL also tweeted out the players' video just before releasing Goodell's statement.
— Saquon Barkley (@saquon) June 5, 2020
Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, became the first NFL player to take a knee during the US national anthem before games in 2016 in protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the US. The move was criticized by US President Donald Trump, who in 2017 said that league's owners should release any player who "disrespects" the American flag.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**ch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said during a 2017 rally for then-Senator Luther Strange (R-AL).
Trump also praised a policy the NFL adopted in 2018 that promised to fine players who disrespect the American flag and national anthem.
"I think that's good," Trump said in a 2018 "Fox & Friends" interview. "I don't think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it's good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country."