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NFL commits $250m to fight systemic racism

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Less than a week after National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged players to peacefully protest racial injustice, the league is now committing $250m to “combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans.”

The committed funds, to be paid over the next decade, expands upon a prior deal struck in 2017 with the Players Coalition, a group of several dozen players who negotiated with owners on social justice issues. 

The league said the central office and individual clubs will also “work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.

Beyond the financial commitment, the NFL also plans to leverage the NFL Network and other in-house media assets to raise awareness on social justice issues.

The NFL’s move continues a wave of recent action among sports entities to pay greater heed to racial justice issues that have again raced to the forefront of American conversation following the recent death of George Floyd while in police custody. 

The funding, and Goodell’s video, also collectively represent a sharp turnaround for the NFL’s stance on these matters following the Colin Kaepernick controversy that resulted in legal action, and subsequent efforts to develop a penalty structure for players kneeling during the national anthem that ultimately were not executed.

Last week, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, a Pakistani-American who has his own experiences facing prejudice, also released a pointed open letter, writing that “racism, in all of its forms, kills. It kills people, it kills communities, it kills dreams, it kills hope.”