As part of its ongoing work to support its players, the NFL today announced a joint player and ownership commitment focused on social justice. The campaign, Let’s Listen Together, launches today and include a multi-layered roll-out including digital content and brand spots highlighting the player-led work on social and racial equality. The platform will also include social media support, as well as individual letters from players and owners sharing their stories and personal reasons for making social justice a priority.
The working group committee, which held its first meeting at the league office in December, includes Arizona Cardinals Owner and President Michael Bidwill, Atlanta Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank, Cleveland Browns Co-Owner Jimmy Haslam, Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan, and Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross. The player representatives are New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, NFL Legend Anquan Boldin, New York Jets quarterback Josh Mccown, Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and NFL Legend Aeneas Williams. The group will focus on supporting programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a priority on supporting improvements in education and economic development, community and police relations, and the criminal justice system. It will work directly with league staff to help identify future initiatives that have both broad support and a potential for high impact, and make financial recommendations accordingly.
The NFL Foundation is also launching a new grant today for active and retired players who develop social justice programming or partner with local non-profit organizations committed to this work. A similar grant will be open for club foundations later this month.
In addition, the league’s government affairs division is working to provide support to the Players Coalition, players and clubs who are interested in criminal justice reform at the local, state and/or national level.
"The collaboration between the NFL and its players should be celebrated, as it’s the first professional league or entity that has taken the concerns of its players and put resources behind it,” said NFL Legend Anquan Boldin. “Our country has some real issues when it comes to social and racial equality that must be addressed. The only way these issues will get solved is to fight together."
“We are pleased to have developed a new initiative that focuses on creating meaningful solutions to improve our communities,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “In developing this plan, we have taken the lead from our players and are honored to join them in this work. Their work has deepened our understanding of the unique platform we have to help advance progress in a profound and unifying way.” Many teams and owners are engaged in ongoing social justice work. This season alone, NFL teams, together with ownership and hundreds of players, have hosted or taken part in more than 100 events pertaining to social justice. Examples include New York Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson spending time with Jets players learning about criminal justice reform in the Bronx in December; New England Patriots President Jonathan Kraft joining Patriots players at Harvard Law School earlier this month to hear from advocates for education and economic advancement; and Philadelphia Eagles CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Lurie and Commissioner Goodell joining Eagles players to gain perspective on criminal justice reform this fall. Commissioner Goodell also joined Dolphins players for a day of conversation and high school roundtables with law enforcement through the Ross Initiative for Sports Equality (RISE) earlier this season. This ongoing work is built upon the constructive dialogue that has been taking place for the past year among owners, players and NFL teams.
In the coming days and weeks, the NFL will highlight various societal issues, individuals and organizations through the lens of its players in a series of NFL Network features debuting this Thursday, January 25 during NFL Total Access, which airs at 7:00 PM Eastern. The first feature includes Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and his focus on racial bias and social and emotional intelligence training for police officers. Future pieces will address other social justice issues led by Devin McCourty and Doug Baldwin, Jr., among others.