NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL “has not seen any evidence” of systemic racism in its policies, and he’s concerned the situation could escalate into an “acrimonious fight” with some players.
“I think the commissioner is going to be looking at the issues of institutional racism in our industry, and I think there is no question about it,” Goodell told reporters in Atlanta.
“And I’m concerned about the impact of this on the people who work for us.
I’m not going to pretend that we’re not concerned about it.
It’s just that we’ve never seen any proof of systemic or intentional bias against people of color, against anyone.”
The commissioner’s comments came after the Associated Press published an article detailing complaints from NFL players about a variety of discrimination and harassment allegations, including the alleged mistreatment of Black players by players and coaches.
Goodell said in the statement that “the commissioner and I share the concern” about racism within the NFL.
“We have heard from several NFL owners who have expressed concern about the perception of the league as a white, male-dominated, male dominated institution,” Goodell said.
“I think we’ve heard from many of you that there are systemic issues that are not being addressed, and so I think we share their concerns.
I have not seen evidence that any of these are systemic.
I think they are just very real.”
While Goodell said he had not seen enough to support the idea that systemic racism exists in the NFL, he did say he believes that players should have the right to speak up.
“If the commissioner and me have a common concern, we share that,” he said.
“In my opinion, players should be able to speak out and speak up about systemic racism and the ways in which we are treated in the league.”
While the commissioner was hesitant to comment on any of the allegations of discrimination against Black players, he said there is a problem within the league.
“There is systemic racism within our game and it has been acknowledged by all of the players that there’s a systemic problem with it, and the commissioner feels that that is a real concern,” Goodell explained.
“That’s a concern that we share with our players.
We don’t want to hear the excuses or excuses that some people would say, ‘We don’t care, we’re white, so we don’t really care.’
I think that’s not the case.
We care about the players, and we do not want them to feel as though there’s any excuse for it.”NFL Commissioner Roger Bannister speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2019.
Getty Images After the AP’s report, ESPN issued a statement that it “stands behind” the NFL for its stance on the allegations.”ESPN stands by our ESPN+ and our player-owned teams,” the statement read.
“As a result of the recent controversy, we have made it clear that ESPN+ will remain available for all NFL games through the end of the 2020 season.
We are committed to giving players the opportunity to engage in this important conversation.”