Four African-American players sending the NFL an “ultimatum” that included demands that the league force “white fans” into community activism is false. Rather, a questionable website misrepresented a memo sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell by four players requesting a “month of unity.”
Last year, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. Over the course of the season, other players joined his protest by kneeling, sitting or raising their fists during the anthem. While Kaepernick is no longer employed with a team, other players on NFL teams have continued to protest during the anthem.
During this public debate, a report circulated social media that four black players had given the league a “sick ultimatum,” in an effort to “force white fans” to engage in community activism. Where did this misrepresentation occur? The Freedom Daily published the story on Oct. 22, 2017 claiming:
…Unfortunately, [Seattle Seahawks’ Michael] Bennnett isn’t stopping their [sic] with his outlandish racism. He’s now demanding that all fans and the NFL comply with his anti-American and anti-cop views, with the with the ridiculous ultimatum he gave to the NFL this week.
Similarly to how the NFL dedicates an entire month to breast cancer awareness, Bennett, along with several other protesting athletes want the entire month of November to be officially recognized by the NFL’s as a month to protest America’s police officers, and the the “oppression” that blacks feel with living in in our country.
However, Snopes reported that the above story grossly overstates a memo which was sent to Goodell by the following active and former players: Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and wide receiver Torrey Smith; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett; and former Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin. A copy of the memo was published by Yahoo! Sports.
However, Freedom Daily exaggerated the memo, stating that the four men gave the NFL an “ultimatum” and made demands, which they did not. Specifically, the players suggested ideas for how the NFL could become more involved in the community with meetings with legislators on the state and national level, interviews and op-eds, engagement with nonprofit and grassroots organizations.
The memo detailed options for the NFL to get involved with activism at the federal, state, and community levels, proposed a timeline for NFL engagement, and outlined a number of areas for the league to focus on. That focus includes “prioritizing Criminal Justice Reform and Police/Community Relations Engagement” and, more specifically, “police transparency/accountability, bail reform, criminalization of poverty, mass incarceration (mandatory minimum sentences, juvenile life parole) and Clean Slate Act, which also includes emphasis on diversion of funds towards community based programs, education and training.”
The four players requested that the NFL dedicate the month of November to such activities, but asked that it serve as “a month of Unity” and community relations, in order to move the broader debate.
What did you think of the story? Did you believe Freedom Daily’s story or see people sharing information about the NFL players’ memo inaccurately? Let us know in the comments section.