Yahoo Sports obtained a memo that was sent by four NFL players to league commissioner Roger Goodell, in which they request league support for various social justice causes and the creation of a league-recognized activism awareness month.
Yahoo reports that the memo, signed by Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins, Anquan Boldin, and Torrey Smith, was sent in August, following a private meeting Goodell had with players who had previously protested during the national anthem.
The memo speaks on behalf of a coalition of 40 players, and lays out specific goals—including bail reform, increased police transparency, and an end to mass incarceration—that they are pursuing. The memo asks for league support in achieving these goals, and even provides specific ways the league can join in the coalition’s pursuit:
To be clear, we are asking for your support. We appreciate your acknowledgment on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level.
To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action. This would entail you and other interested owners, coaches and GM’s participating in a Listen & Learn tour (a one/two-day tour) to gain the same knowledge and understanding of the issues and impact on the community. This would include a prison tour, meetings with grass-roots organizations, policy makers/non-profit leaders, police, families in the community and formerly incarcerated individuals.
Other ways we would like to pursue engagement are as follows. Depending on the individual’s level of interest, the involvement can vary.
1) National level – This section will be focused on national/regional attention on the need for CJR and generating publicity, along with working on meaningful legislation when possible. By joining this effort, you agree to participate in conference calls when possible, commit to the next trip to Capitol Hill to meet with Congress, lend your name to Op-Eds, letters to legislators, press opportunities and social media for specific campaigns.
2) State level – With support from the Coalition’s partners, meet with local legislators (Senator, Congress representative) in your state/district to discuss specific legislation. A representative would accompany and provide talking points/supportive statements. Your presence and willingness to support will help propel movement. State level is where there are a lot of opportunities to move legislation. This also includes testifying, meetings with state government officials and business leaders, Police Commissioner/Mayor’s Office, District Attorney Office,
non-profit and grass roots organizations, Op-eds, PSA’s and so forth. The promise of impact here is very real and the players have tons of leverage on the state level because of who they are.
3) Support with Community – If time doesn’t permit to attend or participate in meetings, you agree to lend support through financial commitment or resources to grass roots organizations and community-based organizations whom are doing the real work to impact criminal justice reform and the larger community at whole. Each city/market will be defined by need regarding key areas where you can lend the most support. We are also looking for a commitment to team resources, including broadcast/multi-media opportunities to share content (videos, PSAs featuring players) around specific issues we are trying to impact. This is a bi-partisan approach toward solutions and not politically driven.
The memo also requests that November be a month in which the league raises awareness for social causes, much the same way it does for breast cancer and the military during other months.
You can read the full memo here.