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Rival Report 9/20: Roger Goodell commends player demonstrations for going from 'protests to progress'

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The NFL has been embroiled knee deep in an American controversy because of the movement started from a single player weeks ago, Colin Kaepernick. The decision from Kaepernick to stay seated during the National Anthem this preseason has raised tempers and divided people in a way rarely seen in the world of sports. It has been eye opening for some, and eyes closing for others, but it isn't going away.

From that one player and that one decision, it is evolving to a national protest where many people from all walks of life are kneeling for the anthem or making some other gesture of solidarity. An entire youth football team in Texas named the Beaumont Bulls recently took a knee for the anthem, and the response was terrifying. These children received bigoted threats, both bodily and emotionally, as the players were threatened with suspensions and worse for voicing their rights.

With many other NFL players now also joining this protest in one way or another it has been quite the sight to behold. Whether it be the evolution that Kaepernick did himself to kneel instead of sit, or other players holding a fist high above their head in a classic black pride symbol, this evolution is very important. There should be no doubt anymore that they are trying to spread the message without insulting the flag in the same way that sitting was perceived to have done.

Still, the issue isn't going away and the protests have evolved and important conversations are starting to happen all over the Nation. These statements are making a difference, even if not everybody agrees and even if many people still want to avoid the topic altogether. It is undeniable that there is an impact being made from all of this, so much so that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has offered some praise for the players efforts to make an impact on their communities.

"As I've said before, I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change the community," Roger Goodell said before the Vikings opened their new stadium against the Packers on Sunday Night Football. "We don't live in a perfect society. We want them to use that voice. And they're moving from protests to progress and trying to make things happen in the communities. And I admire that about our players, (being) willing to do that.

"Obviously, we want to respect people. We want to respect our differences. We want to respect our flag and our country, and our players understand that. So I think where they're moving and how they're moving there is very productive, and we're going to encourage that."

That still isn't good enough to many people that want their athletes (and their writers too) to be quiet about a political issue and just do their job. They don't want disruption, they want to ignore the issues as much as possible feeling like it doesn't apply to them. What that thought process disregards is that disruption is the entire point of a protest, this is something that Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins would like to remind everybody.

"Whenever you talk about race or just anything to do with social injustice," Jenkins told ESPN, "usually it's a hard conversation to have. ... A lot of arguments you hear is, 'Do it on your own time. Do it in a different way.' Well, the truth of the matter is, if you do it in a different way, that just allows you to ignore the issue.

"When you talk about real change, although a protest in itself doesn't change anything, it forces people to talk about it and it tugs on the social conscience of the citizens. So that's the biggest thing, how to get this topic in the minds of all those around the country and make them confront their own beliefs and thoughts and reasonings behind what they support and what they don't. And usually to do that, you have to disrupt something."

These players are not just making a symbolic gesture to get their points across anymore. They are speaking directly about what they believe is systematic discrimination in this country, and they are actively doing things to help their cause in their communities.

Kaepernick kneeling is one thing, Kaepernick donating a million dollars to his cause is another. The symbol only goes so far without the real discussions and real actions to make change. This protest is evolving, it isn't going away, and it is making a difference in our country. If even Roger Goodell is seeing the progress and supporting the players right to a voice then that is proof that these protests are initiating change already.

Roger Goodell praises player demonstrations for going from 'protests to progress'
NFL commissioner supports players using voice to affect change in communities.

Roger Goodell says players' demonstrations going from 'protests to progress'
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he is encouraged by the direction players are taking in the demonstrations related to the national anthem.

Philadelphia Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins and others should feel pride in non-violent protests - NFL 2016
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