NFL to spend $250 million on social justice initiatives

FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to take a stand against police brutality, racial injustice and social inequality, he was vilified by people who considered it an offense against the country, the flag and the military. Nearly four years later, it seems more people are starting to side with Kaepernicks peaceful protest and now are calling out those who dont understand the intent behind his action.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to take a stand against police brutality, racial injustice and social inequality, he was vilified by people who considered it an offense against the country, the flag and the military. Nearly four years later, it seems more people are starting to side with Kaepernicks peaceful protest and now are calling out those who dont understand the intent behind his action. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The NFL is committing $250 million over 10 years to social justice initiatives, targeting what it calls “systemic racism” and supporting “the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans.”

The league, which has raised $44 million in donations through its Inspire Change program, announced the additional $206 million commitment Thursday. It plans to “work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.”

Less than a week ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell denounced racism in a video prompted greatly by a players' video seeking NFL action.

"I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family,” he said.

The players want to see definitive action, of course. There has been increasing distrust of the NFL since San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest social injustice and police brutality. The message was misconstrued by the league and many team owners as anti-military and anti-flag. Goodell admitted as much in his video, though never mentioning Kaepernick, who has not found an NFL job the last three seasons.

That distrust was expressed Wednesday by 49ers star cornerback Richard Sherman.

“They’ve tried their best to throw money behind it for a long time," he said. “It takes more than that. It takes you literally calling out bigotry and being motivated. It’s not just pleading. It’s being consistent year in and year out that you’re combating this issue and that this is a problem that needs to change. And it’s not just this year, not just 2016, not just 2017, but ‘Black Lives Matter.’ They have to matter forever.”

The Players Coalition was established in 2017 to work for social justice, growing out of the Kaepernick-inspired protests and pledging to improve police/community relations, champion criminal justice reform, and promote education and economic advancement in communities across the nation.