A protester holds a sign with a drawing of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in Manhattan on June 4. Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

The NFL said it was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier" on the issues of racism and systematic oppression of black Americans, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on Friday.

Context: Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sued the league in 2018 for allegedly blackballing him over his protest of the treatment of African Americans at the hands of police, which consisted of him taking a knee during the National Anthem. The suit was settled last February.

What they're saying: "It has been a difficult time for our country. In particular, black people in our country," Goodell said. "First, my condolecnes to the familyies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality."

  • "We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter," he said.
  • "I personally protest with you and want to be part of a much needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no NFL."

What he's saying: President Trump tweeted late Sunday, "Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?"

Go deeper: Drew Brees draws ire for condemning athlete protests during national anthem

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Trump's comments.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 33,484,120 — Total deaths: 1,004,082 — Total recoveries: 23,212,633Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 7,180,179 — Total deaths: 205,729 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.
  7. Work: United States of burnout — Asian American unemployment spikes amid pandemic

What to watch in tonight's debate

Joe Biden (left) and President Trump (right) are facing off in Cleveland for the first presidential debate. Photos: Alex Wong (of Biden) and David Hume Kennerly (of Trump)/Getty Images

President Trump will try to break Joe Biden's composure by going after his son Hunter and other family members in tonight's first presidential debate — a campaign source tells Axios "nothing will be off the table" — while Biden plans to stick to the economy, coronavirus and new revelations about how Trump avoided paying taxes.

Driving the news: Biden and Trump are set to debate at 9pm ET at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and it will be moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace.