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NFL players call on league to condemn racism and say it believes black lives matter

Emmanuel Acho talks about race in America

NFL stars Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr. and more than a dozen others called on the league to "condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people" in a powerful video that was shared Thursday night on social media. It came as protests continued nationwide after the death of George Floyd.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas opens the video acknowledging it's been over a week since Floyd died in police custody. "It's been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered."

Following Thomas, the players ask: "What if I was George Floyd?"

The players also name Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner and others who were recently killed. 

In the clip, the players say they "will not be silenced," and say, "This is what we, the players, would like to hear you state: We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."

NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell was criticized for his response to the protests earlier this week. In his statement, Goodell said the "NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country" and the "protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel."

"As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts," Gooddell said. "There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society."

Many critics brought up the NFL's handling of kneeling protests during the national anthem, which were meant to call out police brutality and racial disparities in the U.S. and were popularized by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He faced harsh criticism for his actions both from within the NFL and from outside observers, including President Trump. 

However, other NFL players joined in with the protest, which spread to other professional sports leagues and has been embraced by protesters and sometimes law enforcement members in the wake of George Floyd's death.

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