ESPN’s sources have reported that on Wednesday night, the NFL sat down with a group of players to begin setting plans to reform issues surrounding social justice in African-American communities. Though the talks have only reached an agreement in principle for now, the deal would be a landmark move that will cost the league a hefty amount.
Led by Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin, the players proposed a partnership that will see the NFL offer the most money they ever have to a social issue — more than Breast Cancer Awareness, Crucial Catch, or Salute to Service.
The deal would see $89 million allocated to causes such as education, criminal justice reform, and law enforcement and community relations. The funds would be spent over a span of seven years according to the reports, but most notably, neither the talks nor the money were proposed to include any agreements to stifle protests during the national anthem. However, the NFL hopes this sort of move will help ease any tensions regarding the matter.
Talks come just days after multiple players left the Players Coalition due to the manner in which Boldin and Jenkins were handling previous negotiations, angering commissioner Roger Goodell, who had seen a plan like the one proposed Wednesday almost certainly coming into fruition. At the end of the day, Jenkins encouraged Goodell and team owners to remember that work in the community is just as important as the league’s success on the field of play.
As far as the $89 million goes, the funding will be split between both local and national projects. Owners will begin contributing $5 million this year and will increase their spending by one million each year until 2021, when they will then allocate $12 million a year until 2023. This funding totaling $73 million has already been approved by the league.
For the local funding, the owners and players will contribute $500,000 per team, split evenly between the two groups. Teams are more than welcome to go over this as well, but neither side will necessarily have to match the other if they choose to exceed the $250,000 minimum. This money would also go on to create additional fundraising activities like jersey auctions and telethons.
Having had to deal with a lot of social issue concerns over the past year or so, the NFL decided that instead of working towards banning its players from kneeling during the national anthem in peaceful protest, it would rather construct a deal that allows players and ownership to work together to diminish tensions.
Reports have noted that Goodell was increasingly concerned that prohibiting national anthem protests would lead to the Players Association retaliating against the league, which would obviously not be good for optics. Passing this reform allows him to go into next week’s league meeting in Dallas with the comfort of knowing that progress is being made.
According to ESPN, the national funding will be split as follows: “25 percent to the United Negro College Fund; 25 percent to Dream Corps; and 50 percent to the Players Coalition, which has filed 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) paperwork for nonprofit status as a fiscally sponsored project.”
The deal will work with many local and national nonprofits in order to focus more deeply on reforming criminal justice, education and law enforcement/community relations as needed in different areas. This comes with the hope that the league can make a visible difference regarding the specific issues in relation to the city they’re implemented in.