Roger Goodell Should Have Clearly Understood the Premise of Black Lives Matter
He had to have understood what Kaepernick's protest was all about. The quarterback was clear, and Goodell is surrounded by people who could have explained it to him.
Dec 4, 2020Updated 2 months ago
There was a ton of conversation about this. Both in the public and in private, he could have easily learned what it was all about. Whether in the media or from trusted colleagues, Goodell could have informed himself.
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com
The owners talked extensively about it. There was even a league-wide summit on it. In that summit, the owners spoke with executives and players to reckon with the meaning of the protests.
Ken Durden / Shutterstock.com
Goodell organized a summit in 2018 in which 30 of the top owners, players, and league executives got together to discuss the kneeling protests. The three-hour, closed-door meeting was a rare opportunity for players and owners to meet and discuss the topic together.
In the meeting, Eric Reid—Kaepernick's former teammate and the first NFL player to join his protest—said he felt the league had "hung [Kaepernick] out to dry."
According to the New York Times, he added: “Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”
The owners, for their part, were more concerned that continued ire from President Donald Trump over the protests was becoming a black mark on the NFL. The Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie, warned against being "baited" by Trump, saying the NFL needed to present a united front.
During the course of that meeting, Goodell would have been able to hear from all sides of the discourse in order to understand what the protest was all about.
And there were an inordinate number of news articles about it. Coverage appeared in nearly every major newspaper. Especially in the weeks following Kaepernick's first protest, the articles were nearly non-stop.
Discussion of Kaepernick's protest appeared in nearly every major news outlet, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to cable news networks.
For example, the New York Times published 27 articles in the two weeks (Aug. 30—Sept. 12) following the initial incident. Similarly, The Wall Street Journal published the article, "Sixteen Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick" Sept. 7, 2016 discussing the issue.
The NFL's own media outlet conducted an exclusive interview with Kaepernick in which he explained his position, immediately after the game Aug. 26, 2016 when he took a knee.
What's more, the media discussion lasted for years. The articles and stories have not stopped since Kaepernick first kneeled in 2016.
Taking a knee to show objection to something is a simple concept. The gesture has existed in human body language for at least a thousand years. It even exists in other mammals.
Kneeling is one of the most understandable and recognized positions a person can take. It is a simple position to enter into for the person kneeling and is easily identified by observers.
It takes its cues from a core principle in mammalian nonverbal behavior: reducing the body's appearance shows respect, esteem, and deference. According to an article in Scientific American, kneeling "...is seen, for example, in dogs and chimps, who reduce their height to show submissiveness."
The Scientific American went on to write: "Kneeling can also be a posture of mourning and sadness. It makes the one who kneels more vulnerable. In some situations, kneeling can be seen as a request for protection."
The act is so obviously polite that it has stood as a sign of respect for thousands of years. For example, Christianity cites it in numerous instances in the Bible.
In Psalm 95:6 it states, "Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;" in Chronicles 29:29, "Now at the completion of the burnt offerings, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped," and in Mark 10:17, "As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" to name a few.
The NFL is a huge organization. Goodell has a complete organization of lieutenants and advisors that could have helped explain it to him. He must have either ignored their insight or not asked their advice.
The NFL has close to 3,000 employees according to LinkedIn. As the head of an organization with such a large staff, Roger Goodell clearly has a litany of support available to him.
Roger himself is a highly paid executive, earning over $34 million according to the NFL's 2014 Form 990, with other reports showing his earnings greater than $40 million each year from 2013 to 2018. With compensation this high as the head of a large organization, he obviously has a lot of assistants, advisors and officers reporting to him.
His list of first officers includes a number of highly paid executives, with a CFO, EVP & General Counsel, EVP of Media, EVP of Business Ventures, EVP of Football Operations and EVP of Human Resources, each earning over $1 million per year.
Additionally, the organization's Form 990 shows over $6 million paid to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrisson LLP, one of New York's top law firms. Obviously, he has plenty of attorneys available to advise him, too.
Any number of these colleagues likely could have explained the meaning behind the protests, had he so asked. That Goodell continued to misunderstand seems to represent willful ignorance on his part.
Share your thinking
Show others the intelligence behind your views. Click "Share" to present your idea now! Your name and photo will be at the top of the article, so recipients know they are seeing your perspective. On Goodpoint, posts have the conversation for you.
Goodpoint is an online community where writers are more persuasive, because articles are organized more intelligently. On Goodpoint, content is created in easy-to-read outlines. This allows reasons to be positioned underneath the ideas they support, making the information clearer. And sections are labeled as either fact or opinion, so readers always know what kind of idea they are evaluating.
Write your ideas
Use Goodpoint to present views that are too important to be unfairly attacked or misunderstood, and to explain yourself with a precision that has not been possible before. And use Goodpoint’s “idea leverage” feature to add reasons other writers have already written. Learn more