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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Sunday that he should have "listened earlier" to quarterback Colin Kaepernick about issues of police brutality and racial injustice that led Kaepernick to begin kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.
Why it matters: Activism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, including by top NFL players, successfully pressured the league in May to take a stand against racism, support players' right to peacefully protest, and express regret over how it handled the Kaepernick controversy.
What he's saying: "Well, the first thing I'd say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to," Goodell said in a conversation with former NFL player Emmanuel Acho.
- "We had invited him in several times to have the conversation to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did. You know, we would have benefited from that. Absolutely."
- "It is not about the flag. The message here is, what our players are doing is being mischaracterized. These are not people who are unpatriotic. They're not disloyal. They're not against our military. ... What they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. That misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me."
Go deeper: The 72 hours that changed the NFL