Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin sent a memo to Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent in August asking for the commissioner to provide official league-wide support to their community activism and push for criminal justice reform, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports.
In the 10-page memo, the group lays out a plan to get the league and Goodell directly involved in their various grass roots activism efforts by getting financial and political support, participation in PSAs, Op-Eds, media interviews, and social media campaigns and dedicating the month of November to activism awareness. According to Robinson, the memo was sent after Goodell spoke with a group of players about how to go forward with player activism and move toward a progressive direction.
"To be clear, we are asking for your support," a section of the memo reads. "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."
The memo is split into three sections that outline current engagement among players and plans on how to get the entire league involved on a bigger scale. The first section is an overview of the current efforts being taken by players to help promote their cause. It breaks down the different ways in which they have tried to push for criminal justice reform while also working toward better relationships between the police and their communities.
The second section is a direct call to action, where they ask that this project be made "an immediate priority." It explains how the league can provide resources and help on either the national, state or community level "based on your comfort level." It also says that they will look to provide a player and or representative to help with "talking points and messaging" so nobody will be forced to become a policy expert in areas they may not have a strong understanding.
The final section details how the league-wide effort could be implemented and executed if November is dedicated to being "a month of Unity" similar to the sections of the NFL calender already dedicated to breast cancer awareness and military recognition. It provides specifics aspects of the criminal justice system that the players would like to push to be reformed including police accountability and transparency, bail reform, excessive sentences and children being charged as adults. It also has a "Timeline of Execution" that has various events they ask for the league to participate in and an "Announcement of Owners/Players support going into Opening Day." According to Robinson, this was not expected to start until 2018.
The four who co-authored the memo have all been hyper-visible in their efforts to create change.
Bennett has become one of the most prominent players protesting the national anthem, while also helping with protest efforts and is even working on a book discussing social issues in the country.
Jenkins has also been a face of the anthem protests and has worked on police and community relationships in various ways, including doing ride-alongs with police officers.
Boldin retired from the league after initially deciding to come back to play for the Bills and said his reason for retirement was to focus more on "humanitarian work." He also made a video with Jenkins outlining why players are protesting the anthem.
Smith has also been active in the community, whether its working on panels at schools to discuss societal issues, working with his wife Chanel and their nonprofit organization to help youth across the country or just speaking out on social media.
A league representative declined to comment to Yahoo Sports about Goodell's interaction with individual players, and the four who co-authored the memo either did not respond to Yahoo Sports or declined to comment, citing an agreement to keep direct communication with Goodell private.