NFL stars are speaking out about how the organization has failed the Black community in the past and are calling for action. In an interview with Trevor Noah, former football player Anquan Boldin opened up about founding the Player's Coalition, an organization focused on using the NFL as a platform to fight for racial justice and equality. "You have a lot of people asking why are people protesting, why is there rioting, why is there looting," Boldin told Noah. "The simple answer is that justice wasn't served right away . . . It's because we fail over and over again to hold people accountable."
Boldin's statement comes shortly after George Floyd was killed at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. In a video shared to football star Tyrann Mathieu's Twitter account on June 4, several of the league's players gathered virtually to demand that the league "condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people." "How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?" the players asked the league in the video. "What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality? What if I was George Floyd?"
"If you humanize the situations that we're going through as a culture, I think people will begin to understand."
On June 6, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a public statement addressing the league's negligence of statements made by Black players, like Colin Kaepernick. "The protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of Black players, coaches, and staff," Goodell said in the video.
Boldin believes that the NFL as a whole can do better than issuing statements, and encouraged the league to start by looking within itself to effect positive change. "I think one thing that the NFL can do is look internally, look at the policies that it supports, look at the hiring practices that it has internally . . . When we're asking for support of the NFL, it's not just monetary. But it's coming to us when we have these meetings with congressmen and senators and those that are in positions of power, because then those conversations change . . . It's understanding what exactly it is that we're fighting against."
Boldin added that he's grateful major league sports have come to a standstill at this time to prevent distraction from conversations about important racial justice issues. "If you humanize the situations that we're going through as a culture, I think people will begin to understand," Boldin said. "You can liken it to a lot of different things, but it isn't until it hits home with the person that you're talking to that it really registers."
Going forward, Boldin hopes to see more government officials addressing the over-policing of the Black community and the immunity the government gives law enforcement officials. "I think this is an opportunity for us to really create change," he said. "It's an opportunity for us to really strategize and have a game plan going forward."