Has the NFL's Attitude Truly Changed?

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4:03

It's been almost four years since Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest the police brutality and unequal treatment of black people taking place in our country. Now tens of thousands worldwide are engaging in peaceful protests for the same views.There's 125 quarterbacks on NFL rosters right now but not one team could find a spot for Colin Kapernick.
Now four years later with the recent death of George Flyod and more and more athletes speaking up, the NFL commissioner released a statement that he quote "supports" peaceful protest.Kaitlin O'Toole is joined by Si's analyst and columnist on the Business of Sports Andrew Brandt for his thoughts on the NFL's response and if Kaepernick's name become or not become part of the discussion.

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Kaitlin O'Toole: It's been almost four years since Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest the police brutality and unequal treatment of black people taking place in our country. Now, tens of thousands worldwide are engaging in peaceful protests for the same views. Joining me now is SI analyst and columnist on the business of sports, Andrew Brandt. Andrew, there's a 125 quarterbacks on NFL rosters right now, but not one team could find a spot for Colin Kaepernick. Now, four years later, with the recent death of George Floyd and more and more athletes speaking up, the NFL commissioner released a statement that he quotes "supports peaceful protests." What are your thoughts on the NFL's response, and has Kaepernick's name become or not become part of the discussion?

Andrew Brandt: Kaitlin, it's hard to believe it's been four years since he made those comments specifically about this topic. About police brutality, about unequal treatment by police of minorities. Everyone conflated it with the flag and with military and all that, an anthem, but it was never about that. It was about exactly what the world is talking about now, and that world includes NFL teams and the commissioner, Roger Goodell, which are all talking about what they've learned about unequal treatment of police to minorities, especially black people. Yet, absent from the commissioner's comment or video, which was well-received, was any reference to Colin Kaepernick. So I thought that omission was very suspicious. We still don't know if they're going to allow players to protest. It seems like they will, but that's the commissioner, Kaitlin, and the commissioner works for the owners. We haven't really heard from owners whether they are going to allow what they wouldn't really allow, at least in name? Four years ago. Three years ago. Two years ago, one year ago. This is a story that will not go away. It will stay for a while. I think we'll deal with this in the fall.

Kaitlin O'Toole: Yeah. It's interesting how this is going to play out, but I want your take on this. You've had experience race managing with the Green Bay Packers. How do you think things should be handled moving forward?

Andrew Brandt: Yeah, it's interesting because you see my helmet behind me... Managing the Packers, we were the least diverse city in the NFL by far. I mean, I was asked by players and agents all the time, "hey, Andrew, do you have black people up there besides the players on the team?" And I'd be honest, I'd say no. So, we were dealing with a very non-diverse area, homogenous and completely white. So we had to manage it and make sure everyone felt comfortable in the environment they were living in. I think this is the challenge for everyone now because there are a lot of diverse views in that locker room, Kaitlin, they're not all the same. We saw that with the protests. Some players did want to stand at attention, salute the flag. To other players, it was ridiculous. So we'll see how NFL overall manages this, especially Commissioner Goodell and then more specifically, the teams. It's not going to be easy. Everyone's got to have professionalism, tact, and patience as we get through this.

Kaitlin O'Toole: Yeah. It might not be easy, but it's something that surely needs to happen. I want to switch gears quick, and get your insight on what's happening with Major League Baseball and how you think that might affect the NFL.

Andrew Brandt: It's a preview because baseball and the players are going through this economic negotiation. Revenues are going to be down due to a lack of fans. Players thought they had a deal but they didn't have a deal. The owners say that's only with fans, that deal. So we may not have baseball. That's a real possibility and it won't be because of the pandemic. Think about that! It'll be about economics... The NFL will take the same approach. They will go to the players. My prediction, my words: in a matter of weeks or months and the NFL will say, "listen, we're going to have less revenues because of less fans. We need to get ahead of this. Let's negotiate a different kind of deal." This is a preview for the NFL.

Kaitlin O'Toole: A story we'll certainly follow here in Sports Illustrated. Andrew, thank you so much for your insight. Appreciate it.