NFL Owners Allocate $100 Million For Social Justice Initiatives … And I Like It

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There’s debate—among NFL players, social activists, and others—about whether accepting the money was the right thing to do. I think it was.

Two things are certain about what many see as a head-shaking offer.

–The money will do good things for a variety of beneficiaries, including The United Negro College Fund.

–Despite widespread concern that the allocation was “hush money” (that is, players were taking cash in exchange for ending pre-game protests) there wasn’t an explicit quid pro quo associated with accepting the owners’ largesse.

But questions are still being raised. One issue is why owners would make such a move? The problem with that question is this: answering it requires imputing motives, which is a dicey proposition. Still, though, lots of people are doing it, especially those on the Far Right (video/audio below).

Second, there’s dissension among players about the agreement. The deal was negotiated by a group called “The Players Coalition,” led by the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL player Anquan Bolden. But it’s being questioned publicly by other NFL peers.

“Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole,” said NFL players Michael Thomas and Eric Reid on Twitter.

For perspective on the controversy, I turned to a point-counterpoint between Michael Harriot and Stephen Crockett., Jr. as published in The Root. Crockett concludes “the money will help a lot of people.” Harriot, on the other hand, says: “Not everything is for sale.”

Do I trust the owners? No, I don’t. They may have something up their sleeves. This may be a ruse of some sort. But I know, for sure, that protesting and subsequent organizing have given NFL players a voice. Otherwise, this agreement would have never happened. And, because of it, people all over the country will benefit in very tangible ways.

Kudos to the owners, too. Irrespective of their motives, they put a significant amount of cash on the line for social purposes. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about that.

I view the deal as a sign of significant progress. Now the big question is whether it’s a one-off or if more is yet to come.

Time will tell whether the NFL players have the kind of leadership to sustain success over time. I think they do. I predict they will.


About Frank Fear

I’m a Columnist at The Sports Column. My specialty is sports commentary with emphasis on sports reform. I also serve as TSC’s Chief Operating Officer and Managing Editor. In that role I coordinate the daily flow of submissions from across the country and around the world, including overseeing editing and posting articles. I’m especially interested in enabling the development of young, aspiring writers. I can relate to them. I began covering sports in high school for my local newspaper. In college I served as sports editor of the campus newspaper and worked in the Sports Information Director’s Office at St. John Fisher College. After finishing grad degrees at West Virginia and Iowa State I had a 35-year academic career at Michigan State. Now retired, it’s time to write again about sports. I strongly support TSC’s philosophy–democratizing voice by giving everybody a chance to write.

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