At a meeting between NFL team owners, coaches, and players in October, “confidential” conversations took place about the president’s attack on the league and how to stop them, the players’ concerns and the importance they placed on standing behind Colin Kaepernick’s protests of police violence against people of color, and what actions to take moving forward.
The New York Times obtained a recording of that private meeting, and the divide in the concerns are glaringly obvious.
‘The players sounded aggrieved. After discussing a proposal to finance nonprofit groups to address player concerns, they wanted to talk about why Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who started the anthem protests to highlight social injustice and police brutality against African-Americans, was, they believed, being blackballed by the owners. The owners sounded panicked about their business under attack, and wanted to focus on damage control.’
In fact, the all-white group of team owners were far more focused on the loss of fans, ratings, and money than hearing about the reasons players were protesting. New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft, who is an open supporter of President Trump, most wanted to discuss “this kneeling.”
‘The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America. It’s divisive and it’s horrible.’
It’s not exactly a surprise that a wealthy, white man would fail to see that “the problem” is not Trump’s attacks and that it isn’t the players who are divisive. The real problem is a president and his base of supporters who are more offended by what they perceive as disrespect to a flag than people of color being murdered in the street. The owners were concerned about their bank accounts while the players are fighting for their personal safety and the lives of people who look like them.
In the end, the group could agree, at least, on a joint statement to be released to the press. That statement read:
‘Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.’
Featured image via Getty/Jonathon Ferrey