NFL 'were wrong' not to support players' protests, says commissioner Roger Goodell
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who initially criticised those who protest during the US national anthem, urges US President Donald Trump to "acknowledge the problems" facing the black community
Last Updated: 11/06/20 3:14pm
The NFL has admitted it was wrong for not listening to players fighting for racial equality and encouraged them to peacefully protest.
The apology comes a day after a number of leading NFL players, including Patrick Mahomes and Odell Beckham Jr, called on the league to "condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people".
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Protests have broken out across the globe since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while being restrained by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.
"We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People," Goodell said in a video on the NFL Twitter page.
"We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter."
No mention in Goodell's speech was made to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling in 2016 during the national anthem before games, which was subsequently banned by the NFL two years later.
"I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country," the NFL commissioner added.
"Without black players there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff."
Goodell also said he would be in touch with individual players who had voiced concerns about the league.
"It has been a difficult time for our country. In particular, black people in our country," Goodell said.
Trump: Brees shouldn't have backed off flag comments
Drew Brees has urged US President Donald Trump to "acknowledge the problems" facing the black community, insisting "this is not an issue about the American flag".
Trump, on Friday, criticised Brees' decision to publicly apologise over his comments about "disrespecting the flag", referring to players kneeling in a pose which has become a symbol of the fight for racial justice in the United States.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Brees said his words "lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy".