LOS ANGELES – National Football League (NFL) boss Roger Goodell has expressed regret in the way he dealt with Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest and said he wished the American football league had listened earlier.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback first took a knee in 2016 during the national anthem to protest against racism and police violence in the United States, and other NFL players and athletes began to follow his lead.
Asked in an interview published on Sunday what he would say publicly as an apology to Kaepernick, Godell said: “I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to.”
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man: The National Anthem Protest- PT. 1
NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, & I discuss Colin Kaepernick & the protests during the national anthem that polarized America. pic.twitter.com/PcL02732ys
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) August 23, 2020
Goodell was a guest in a series of interviews with former NFL pro Emmanuel Acho entitled “Uncomfortable conversations with a black man,” which explores the issue of racism.
Goodell said he regretted that he was not well informed in 2016. “I wish I had known what was going on in the communities,” he said.
Goodell said that he now understood the point of the protest.
“It is not about the flag. The message here that what our players are doing is being mischaracterized. These are not people who are unpatriotic. They’re not disloyal,” Goodell said. “What they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed.”
Kaepernick, who was criticized by Goodell among others for his protest, did not renew his contract with the 49ers when it expired in early 2017 and has not played a single NFL game since despite being widely regarded as a high-quality quarterback.