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A group of four prominent NFL players reached out to the league in hopes of securing support for social activism and community involvement, according to a memo obtained by Yahoo Sports.
The memo, sent to the league in August, includes signatures from Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, and retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin, four of the NFL’s most outspoken players on issues of racial inequality.
The memo begins with a rundown of activities undertaken by their “Players Coalition,” such as visits to poverty-stricken neighborhoods and meetings with law enforcement officials. Later, the players make specific requests of league commissioner Roger Goodell, including the idea to dedicate one month of the season to highlighting player activism and community engagement, something akin to the recent “Breast Cancer Awareness” initiative implemented by the NFL.
Here’s the paragraph in its entirety:
“To counter the vast amount of press attention being referred to as the ‘national anthem protests’ versus the large amount of grass roots work that many players around the league have invested their time and resources, we would like to request a league wide initiative that would include a month dedicated to a campaign initiative and related events. Similarly to what the league already implements for breast cancer awareness, honoring military, etc, we would like November to serve as a month of Unity for individual teams to engage and impact the community in their market.”
The NFL’s pushes for breast cancer awareness and military support have caused controversy in recent years. While some applaud the league for supporting worthwhile causes, others have criticized it for being proactive on some issues while ignoring others.
Either way, it seems that this request was made with the aim of shedding a positive light on the wave of activism that has spread across the league. Currently, many fans are boycotting the league’s broadcasts due to the increasingly common national anthem protests, but an entire month dedicated to exploring how these same players are affecting their communities could change some minds.
The memo also includes a timeline for announcing the initiative prior to the 2017 season, though it seems those suggestions were ignored. It concludes with an outline of the players’ vision for criminal justice reform, including bail reform, the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences, and ending the war on drugs.
All four players who signed the memo have called for racial equality in the past. Jenkins and Bennett have engaged in national anthem protests, while Smith frequently speaks his mind in interviews and on social media. Boldin has spoken on Capitol Hill in support of criminal justice reform.
You can read the entire memo at Yahoo Sports.