As furor over NFL protests cools while the nation’s attention moves to other news, protesting players and the NFL are working together to get to the heart of why players were protesting in the first place.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has long been an advocate of sentencing reform in America, and his protests have been designed to draw attention to what he sees as inequitable sentencing based on race. Now, Baldwin has the attention, and the support, of the NFL in his attempt to lobby Congress for changes.
Baldwin and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have signed their names to a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for the passage of S. 1917, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017. The bill would reduce minimum jail time for nonviolent offenders.
“Over the last two seasons, one particular issue that has come to the forefront for our players and our teams is the issue of justice for all,” Goodell and Baldwin wrote. “Last season, as part of our My Cause My Cleats initiative, several players chose to highlight equality and justice on their cleats, while others chose causes related to supporting the difficult work of law enforcement. These expressions of player advocacy aptly capture the challenges we currently face as a nation—ensuring that every American has equal rights and equal protection under the law, while simultaneously ensuring that all law enforcement personnel have the proper resources, tools, and training and are treated with honor and respect.”
The joint letter noted that the bill “seeks to improve public safety, increase rehabilitation, and strengthen families. If enacted, it would be a positive next step in our collective efforts to move our nation forward.”
The NFL protests, undertaken during the national anthem, enraged a large swath of fans across the country who saw the players’ move as disrespectful to both the flag and the nation itself. Although the protests took place during the national anthem, players and teams have taken pains to rebuke the idea that the protests were “anti-America” or “anti-military.” Players and teams across the NFL have kicked off dozens of new initiatives in the wake of the protests in an attempt to demonstrate that kneeling was just the start of reform efforts.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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