Roger Goodell Has Racism Conversation With Black Nephew

Roger Goodell appears to be in the midst of his own personal reckoning — or, according to some, a conveniently-timed apology tour — when it comes to racism in America. The NFL commissioner appeared on Emmanuel Acho’s digital series “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man” and shared how both Colin Kaepernick and his own nephew opened his eyes to issues he’s long ignored.

As for Kaepernick, who was effectively blacklisted from the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem in protest, Goodell has regrets for the way he and the league treated him these past four years.

Asked what he would say to Kap if they were having a face-to-face conversation, Goodell replied, “The first thing I’d say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to.” He added that the league will no longer discipline players, explicitly or implicitly, for kneeling. “We have never disciplined a single player for anything with the national anthem and in violation, and I don’t intend to,” Goodell said. “I will support it … I don’t think [disciplining them] is the right thing to do.”

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But an even bigger moment of reckoning came for Goodell when Acho showed him video footage of Black children sharing their fears and distress over news of Black people being killed in America.

“It’s just sad that somebody might do that to people that look like me or Amus just because out of hatred of our skin color,” a girl said on the show while fighting back tears.

Goodell looked visibly shaken watching the clip. “Seeing somebody live in that kind of fear is just not right,” Goodell said. “We’ve got to fix that. We’ve got to make this world better, because it’s just not right.”

For Goodell, seeing the clip brought up something personal: his relationship with his Black nephew. Goodell admitted that, until that moment, he hadn’t really looked at his nephew as a young Black man in America.

“I don’t look at him as a Black nephew, I look at him as my nephew. He’s named after my father, Charlie Goodell,” he said. “It’s my youngest brother and he actually has adopted two other kids. I just look at him as my nephew.

He continued, “So I didn’t think about, does he have that fear when he’s walking out and does he really think that he’s in danger every time he walks outside of the building.”

Watch the full clip below:

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