NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes Monday in Minneapolis.
Goodell joined a chorus of people from the sports world who have issued public statements and remarks in recent days, including Los Angeles Lakers guard/forward LeBron James, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and tennis star Sloane Stephens.
He also recognized Breanna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who died in her Louisville apartment after police officers shot her at least eight times while serving a no-knock arrest warrant. A lawsuit filed by her family says the officers were searching for a suspect already in police custody as part of a drugs investigation. Taylor was an EMT.
Goodell did the same for Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was pursued by two armed white men and shot and killed in south Georgia. Arbery is a cousin of Detroit Lions cornerback Tracy Walker.
The commissioner recognized the NFL's national platform and said "we embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners."
The statement comes in light of increased support for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested racial inequality during the 2016 NFL season. He has been out of the league ever since.
"Actually now is the moment for Roger Goodell to step to a microphone and offer a full and complete apology to Mr. Kaepernick," Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NCAAP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said.
"To announce his commitment to supporting Mr. Kaepernick's charities. And to signing Mr. Kaepernick to an NFL team."
Former NFL executive vice president in charge of communications and government affairs Joe Lockhart expressed support for Kaepernick to find a home in the NFL in a CNN.com piece.
"I was wrong. I think the teams were wrong for not signing him," Lockhart said. "Watching what's going on in Minnesota, I understand how badly wrong we were."
The NFL's 2020 season is scheduled to begin September 10.