Goodell made the contrite statement during an interview on the popular YouTube show “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” with creator and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho. Goodell says he and the 31 league owners should have tried to first understand why Kaepernick was kneeling. In short, Goodell told Kaepernick through the show that he was wrong four years ago.
“I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” Goodell says to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback before turning his attention back to host Acho.
“We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that; we never did. We would have benefited from that, absolutely,” Goodell added.
Goodell said he bristled when he saw how scores of right-wing operatives quickly characterize Kaep and other players’ kneeling as anti-American, anti-military and insubordination. However, Goodell chose not to speak up back during the 2016-17 season when Kaepernick allegedly was blackballed by the league.
After the police-involved death of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020, Goodell and the NFL completely flipped their stance against kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Goodell now says he understands what was behind the players’ peaceful protest.
“It is not about the flag. The message here, and what our players are doing, is being mischaracterized. These are not people who are unpatriotic, they’re not disloyal, they’re not against our military,” Goodell said. “In fact, many of those guys were in the military, and they’re a military family.
“What they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. That misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was a thing that really gnawed at me.”
Flip the page to check out part one of the interview with Goodell.