A group of players has officially asked the NFL to get behind Activism Awareness Month.
From breast cancer, to the military, children’s health, to proper tackling in youth football, the NFL aligns itself behind a number of worthy causes countless times every year.
Now, a faction of players have asked league commissioner Roger Goodell to spend a month supporting community and race relations.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports that a group of current and former players sent a memo to the league in August, asking for the NFL’s help campaigning for racial equality and criminal justice reform. The letter was signed by Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles wideout Torrey Smith and recently retired Anquan Boldin.
The 10-page letter, addressed to Goodell and executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, urged the league to endorse efforts to promote an activism awareness month as well.
Neither the league, nor the players involved, citing an agreement to keep all communication with Goodell private.
The memo also requested investment of time and education, finances, political involvement, and further commitments from the league. They’ve asked the NFL to endorse November as the time to celebrate their cause.
“To be clear, we are asking for your support,” part of the memo (which can be read in full here) reads. “We appreciate your acknowledgement on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level. To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action.”
The four players who signed the memo have been among the most active, thoughtful and outspoken on issues of inequality.
So, it remains to be seen if the NFL will be willing to get behind a cause that 1…is not as warm and fuzzy as other causes it supports and 2… clearly puts itself on one side of a moral issue. But, this is the NFL, so it may ultimately come down to whether the league will be able to force some color-schemed merchandise down your throat.