NFL reportedly strikes seven-year, $89M donation plan with player activists
A day after several NFL players publicly split from the Players Coalition, a group-turned-nonprofit representing those who have protested injustice on the field, the league has reportedly agreed to donate $89 million over seven years to “address social issues considered important to African-American communities,” namely education, criminal justice and law enforcement reform.
ESPN’s Jim Trotter and Jason Reid were the first to report the $89 million figure after The Washington Post noted late Wednesday night that the NFL and Players Coalition had come to an agreement on a financial partnership. All but $16 million of that total, Trotter later added via Twitter, has been “vetted and approved” for national funding of the Coalition, which is now a fiscally sponsored project; Dream Corps, an organization aimed at aiding the impoverished and underrepresented; and the United Negro College Fund, which offers scholarships to black students.
After a “furious” reaction to news that the Players Coalition had reportedly split, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with unofficial Coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins, of the Philadelphia Eagles, Trotter said. What followed was an agreement on the seven-year donation plan, “which represents the NFL’s largest contribution to a social issue, surpassing that of Salute to Service or Breast Cancer Awareness/Crucial Catch.”
In some eyes, the partnership also represents the most substantive result of league-wide protests to date. Suzanne Nossel, executive director of free-speech organization PEN America, told CBSSports.com that the agreement is the latest proof that NFL players’ peaceful protests, starting with national-anthem kneeling by Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and coinciding with community engagement and listening sessions in 2017, sparked conversations and, now, action regarding social issues.
“Word that NFL players and owners have reached an agreement in principle on a joint plan to address social justice issues in black communities represents a major win for the players, the league, the players, the causes they will support, and the principle of free speech,” Nossel said. “If confirmed, this positive outcome offers powerful testimony to the potency of visible, bold protests in driving forward social change.”