- The meetings between the NFL and its players over protests and social activism fell apart due to infighting amongst the players.
- According to a report from ESPN, one NFL owner said the league knew the players had the advantage, but would “implode.”
- While some progress was made, with the NFL donating to various charities, the players remain divided on the issues and negotiations.
The high-profile meetings between the NFL and its players over protests during the national anthem and promoting social justice seemed to have fallen apart due to infighting amongst the players.
According to ESPN’s Howard Bryant, the players split into factions during the negotiations about how to better promote social activism, with one side joining the Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and the Players Coalition and the other basing itself around Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid.
The entire issue seemed to boil down to differences in opinion about how to handle the matter, but through the publicized negotiations that ran through October and November, the players apparently could never get on the same page.
According to Bryant, one NFL owner offered a damning but prescient take on how the negotiations would play out.
“The players had real leverage,” the owner said. “But we knew we could sit back and watch them implode.”
It proved true. The NFL seemed to be at a disadvantage with player protests. With fan and some commercial backlash, the NFL wanted to end protests, and the players seemed to be at an advantage in bargaining what they wanted from the league.
However, as Bryant detailed, the negotiations seemed to come undone in he-said-she-said fashion, with players disagreeing over who should lead the movement and what they really wanted from the league.
The NFL agreed to donate money, with players matching the donations, to charities that support social justice and social activism, a win in some players’ eyes.
According to Bryant, some of the leading players, like Jenkins, Reid, and Chris Long, feel the offseason and a break could reunite the players and help them move forward, but as of now, there hasn’t been much progress since the fall.