advocacy by August Prum October 26, 2017
NFL players are continuing a dialogue with the NFL and the owners over social and racial issues in our country.
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is part of a group of NFL players advocating for the support of league owners to help push an agenda that includes criminal justice reform, police brutality, and women’s rights.
Bennett spoke to reporters on Sunday after the Seahawks defeated the Giants,
“I think we should go meet and talk about that issue and talk about the other issues and bring it up. I don’t really care for the word owner. But I like the word employer. So when you get a chance to talk to your employer and get the opportunity to bring up what you want to make a change in, I think one of the changes should be bringing Kaepernick in.”
As for Colin Kaepernick, he reportedly was invited to a previous meeting and may show up for the next one.
Joe Lockhart, NFL vice president of communications and public affairs, said the NFL embraces the opportunity to speak with Kaepernick, “I expect he will be invited to this meeting. We look forward to him joining the conversation.”
Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles safety and another player who is part of the group advocating for change, said Kaep was invited but didn’t show. When asked about why Kaepernick didn’t come to the meeting, Jenkins replied, “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question.”
Jenkins was one of three Eagles, along with Torrey Smith and Chris Long, to speak to Pennsylvania legislators about criminal justice reform in Harrisburg on Tuesday after a Monday night victory over Washington.
Michael Bennett revealed that he speaks to Kaepernick regularly and hopes he gets back in the league, but Bennett also credited Kaepernick for starting a movement that reaches far beyond football,
“I’m hoping he has an opportunity to play. Obviously I believe that he’s had an impact in the country. You see what he started, taking a knee, and how he’s affected the communities from young children to even older Americans and finding a way to have an impact. I believe that if this conversation is happening with the commissioner and happening with our employers, his job situation should be brought up and it should have some kind of resolution.”
And while many NFL players took knees or sat down during the national anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick, this movement is about actually affecting change in our country,
“It’s always been about justice and discrimination in America, police brutality, women’s rights, all these different issues – clean water; Flint, Michigan – issues that are pertaining to America that we all need to pay attention to because it’s not that it happens to one of us that [makes it] important. It’s important every single day regardless of what we’ve got going on.”
This group of NFL players has shown that this goes far beyond Kaepernick taking a knee. Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins, and others are calling on the higher-ups at the NFL to help them in their push for equality.
The NFL has made the first step by taking these meetings, but putting their massive platform and finances towards social advocacy projects would signal true, tangible support for their players.
This will be an intriguing space to watch over the coming weeks and months.