The NFL is taking steps toward helping players in their effort to fight for social justice issues. According to a report from ESPN.com's Jim Trotter and Jason Reid, the league "has proposed partnering with its players to effect social justice change," submitting a proposal to players that included close to $100 million in funding.
In an unprecedented move for a major professional sports league, the NFL has proposed partnering with its players to effect social justice change, though not all players are in agreement on the proposal.
The league on Monday submitted to players the final draft of a proposal that would contribute nearly $100 million to fund causes considered critically important to African-American communities. The NFL hopes this effort will effectively end the peaceful-yet-controversial movement that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started when he refused to stand for the national anthem last season.
The NFL's multifaceted offer earmarks at least $89 million over a seven-year period for both national and local projects, according to documents reviewed by ESPN. On the national level, owners this year will allocate $5 million, with their commitment growing annually and maxing out at $12 million per year from 2021 through 2023. At the local level, owners will put up $250,000 annually and expect players to match that amount, totaling $500,000 for each team. Players and owners can exceed that amount if they choose, with no matching requirement. In addition, there would be other fundraising opportunities, including auctions of jerseys worn in games and telethons.
According to ESPN, the package would surpass Salute to Service, Crucial Catch and NFL Play 60 as the largest commitment the league has ever made to a public cause.
Per the same report, however, there is not unanimity of support for the proposal from the players. Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and 49ers safety Eric Reid tweeted identical messages Wednesday indicating that they are withdrawing from the Players Coalition, a group of players that negotiated directly with the league office on these issues.
"The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism," Thomas and Reid wrote. "However, Malcolm [Jenkins] and 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."
In phone calls with ESPN, Reid questioned the way Jenkins handled negotiations with the league and whether they received the owners' best offer.
"Malcolm continues to have conversations on his own with the NFL, and the Players Coalition is his organization," Reid said. "When we agreed to be a part of the Players Coalition, we were under the impression that it would be our organization. We were under the impression that we would all have equal say in that organization.
"But we've come to find out that it's actually Malcolm and Anquan's organization. Nobody else really has a stake in the organization. Malcolm actually wants us to -- he calls it invest; I call it donate -- to the company to pay salaries for his staff. But again, we would have no equity in the organization."
It remains to be seen whether the players will ultimately support this proposal, but divisions emerging within the group of players that has been negotiating with the league on social justice issues add an interesting new facet to the negotiations.