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NFL Wants to Inspire Change and Here's How They Do It.

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

For the NFL, it’s been four years since Colin Kaepernick began his protest and for many people it’s been four years that the league has gone without a cogent path to address racism, police brutality and other injustices plaguing the United States. Following the reemergence of Black Lives Matter and conversations on social injustice, through the Inspire Change initiative, the NFL believes they are finally on the right path.

The Inspire Change Initiative was officially adopted by all 32 clubs in 2018. The initiative was brought to life after several players came forward to league officials wanting to discuss criminal justice reform in 2016. 

"Initially for us it was just trying to get the attention of those that were in positions of power," Anquan Boldin, who is active in the players oriented Players’ Coalition said in an interview with "Hey, we have a problem here. Let's address it. …Now it's spreading across all the leagues."

Following this initial meeting and a visit to Capitol Hill, players established the Players’ Coalition which then birthed Inspire Change.

The initiative gained more notoriety when a commercial talking about the mission and work done through the initiative premiered during SuperBowl in February. 

According to its page on the league’s website, the intent of the initiative is to showcase the work of players, owners and the league is doing to promote positive change throughout communities across the nation.

For the initiative the three top areas of focus are education and economic advancement, police and community relations and criminal justice reform.

According to the page since its start it has awarded more than $44 million in grants to social justice organizations and over 750 grants have been awarded to former and current players for nonprofits.

A few of the recent organizations to be awarded with grants include The Anti-Recidivism Coalition, which focuses programming to support incarcerated individuals in California, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which focuses on bridging gaps between police officers and the communities they serve and Gideon’s Promise, which centers around mentoring programming inspiring to become public defenders.

Although the initiative is providing financial support and more recognition for the work these organizations are doing, for some the work the league is trying to do comes a little too late.

For some who criticize the league and its initiative, some point to the treatment of Colin Kaepernick after he began his protest.

After the 2016 season, the 49ers chose not to re-sign Kaepernick and released him and since he left the team he has not been signed by another team.

Some have suggested a few clubs chose not to sign Kaepernick not wanting to deal with his protest and the attention it would bring to their respective clubs and were influenced by critics of Kaepernick’s protest.

Many believe that it was intentional for Kaepernick to not be re-signed as a punishment for his protest.

Giving his first remarks, Commissioner Roger Goddell said during ESPN’s special “Return of Sports” he was encouraging clubs to sign the former quarterback.

Even with Kaepernick without a job, Goddell said the ordeal does not take away from the work other players are doing.

How could it, when our players are out and for the last several years, players and teams are making important changes in their community with important programs?” Goddell told Peter King on NBC’s Football Morning in America.

While the NFL, players and clubs deserve the credit for their collaborative work to combat injustices, it is a collective importance for the league to accept their faults on the handling of Kaepernick and his protest. 

Atlas, the NFL takes their stance.

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