NFL pledges nearly $100M toward social justice efforts: Report

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Will NFL anthem protests hurt sponsorships, viewership?

Sports Business Journal NFL writer Dan Kaplan on anthem protests and how they will affect sponsors.

The NFL has purportedly offered to pledge nearly $100 million toward social justice initiatives as part of its effort to resolve ongoing national anthem protests – but not all members of the player committee involved in negotiations are on board with the proposal.

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League executives formally proposed at least $89 million in funding that would be earmarked for causes benefitting African-American communities on the national and local level, ESPN reported, citing internal documents which laid out the plan. If accepted, the proposal would mark the NFL’s largest-ever commitment to a social cause.

Members of the “Players Coalition,” which has been meeting with NFL officials about a resolution to the anthem protests, are purportedly set to discuss the offer during a call on Wednesday night. However, two members of the coalition – Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid – tweeted on Wednesday that they would withdraw from the group.

“The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as group that represents NFL athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism. However, [Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins] and [retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin] can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole,” the players said in a statement posted to their Twitter accounts.

Reid, who is best known for joining his former 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem during the 2016 season, told ESPN he is unhappy with a lack of transparency within the player coalition during the negotiation process.

The Players Coalition consists of roughly 40 members. If the players accept the offer, the NFL’s 32 owners would then vote to ratify the agreement in an annual league meeting in March.

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The NFL has experienced an unprecedented wave of player protests amid direct criticism from President Donald Trump, who has ripped players for disrespecting the country and called on NFL team owners to fire any player who kneels during the anthem. League officials previously met with players in October to discuss ways to improve the NFL’s social justice platform.

Papa John’s became the first sponsor to publicly criticize the NFL for its handling of the issue in October, urging the league to find a solution that would satisfy players, owners and the public. 

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