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NFL’s Support of Social Justice Causes a Win For Dialogue, Peaceful Protest, and the First Amendment


In response to the announcement that the NFL has reached an agreement with athletes and will commit $89m over several years to address social justice issues, PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel issued the following statement: 

“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. If confirmed, this positive outcome offers powerful testimony to the potency of visible, bold protests in driving forward social change. Protesting players put their reputations and livelihoods on the line. The league withstood a relentless campaign of intimidation from the White House and, for the most part, steadfastly refused to discipline players for this peaceful exercise of free speech. In the end dialogue won out and they have reached a meeting of the minds about how to advance important joint goals. Dissent and protest are alive and well in Donald Trump’s America, thanks to those willing to stand up—and kneel down—for their rights.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Anoosh Gasparian, PEN America External Relations Coordinator: agasparian@pen.org, +1.646.981.0685