The NFL announced a new social justice committee Tuesday backed by team owners and players called “Let’s Listen Together.”
League officials want to “tackle serious societal issues by steering resources to community organizations and initiatives.” Yes, it sounds good, but let’s keep it all the way real. The effort feels a little too late and incomplete, many people have said on social media. Why, you ask?
Well, one super important person is missing from the committee: Colin Kaepernick. The free agent has been the hardest kneeling man in the social justice business, a true leader who has laid the groundwork for the NFL’s effort. Arguably, without Kaep, this commission wouldn’t exist. Yet, Kaep goes unacknowledged here, many Twitter users noted.
“The man who used his NFL platform — and risked his career — to ignite conversation about police brutality and other social injustices is nowhere in the mix with this new collaborative movement of players, owners and the league office that aims to spark change for the greater good,” USA Today‘s Jarett Bell skillfully explained.
If the NFL didn’t know yet, the people are with Kaep. Yes, it’s #ImWithKaep time for folks, but the NFL is missing that. Here’s how owners explained the new effort:
“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,” former player Anquan Boldin said in a press release announcing the launch of the committee. “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.”
If the effort isn’t already somewhat questionable for forgetting Kaep, the timing of it is also interesting. The NFL has lost ratings and fans with not backing Kaepernick and other players in their national anthem protests, with some downright boycotting the league. After letting Kaep go into free agency and waiting almost two seasons, they announced the committee just a few weeks ahead of the Super Bowl, which brings in millions for owner.
The league’s effort would hold more meaning if it came earlier under the central direction of Kaepernick, who donated thousands to justice organizations daily. It’s hopeful to hear that the NFL Foundation launched a new grant for current and former players to create and grow social justice programs of their own with local non-profits, the New York Daily News reported. It’s great that the NFL is trying to tackle social justice issues. But Kaepernick needs an acknowledged place at the heart of this effort, with many folks, especially people of color, in agreement.