NFL Pledges $20M to Support Social Justice Causes, Activism Amid Protests

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 4, 2020

Rain drops are seen on the NFL logo on padding of a goal post at M&T Bank Stadium during the first half of NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 20-17. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The NFL announced Thursday that it will commit an additional $20 million for programs and initiatives that address systemic racism: 

"This is a time of self-reflection for all—the NFL is no exception.

"We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter. Through Inspire Change, the NFL, Players and our partners have supported programs and initiatives throughout the country to address systemic racism. We will continue using our platform to challenge the injustice around us.

"To date we have donated $44 million to support hundreds of worthy organizations. This year, we are committing an additional $20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work. We know that we can and need to do more."

The news comes amid the 10th day of nationwide protests against racial inequality and police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who was killed in Minneapolis Police custody on May 25.

The NFL's $20 million commitment comes five days after the league released a statement saying that "there remains much more to do as a country and as a league" and that there "remains an urgent need for action."

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The NFL's Social Justice Initiative, which is a joint committee consisting of team owners and players, is committed to three goals: education and economic advancement, community-police relations and criminal justice reform. Per the league, it has been successful in passing criminal justice reforms in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. 

The NFL and Players Coalition also launched the Inspire Change Initiative in 2019. Per Barry Wilner of the Associated Press, that initiative's goal is work "with an emphasis on education, economic development and community and police relations." The league committed $8.5 million in social justice initiatives in 2018 and an additional $12 million in 2019.

The league has made significant strides in its social justice initiatives over the past few years, but it still does not have a home for ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested racial inequality and police brutality during the 2016 NFL season. He has been out of the league ever since.

Free-agent NFL safety Eric Reid, who protested alongside Kaepernick, noted the following on Thursday:

And ex-NFL head coach Tony Dungy supported Kaepernick as well in comments he made on ESPN's First Take:

The NFL season is scheduled to begin on September 10.

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