Success: NFL Supports Players’ Rights to Free Speech

Target: Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League

Goal: Support free speech, peaceful protest, and calls for racial equality from athletes.

As the 2020 football season kicked off, players from opposing teams stood in solidarity, many quietly protested racial injustice…and the world did not come to a screeching halt. When the National Football League (NFL) tried to prohibit these protests after they began a few years ago, advocates like the signers of this ForceChange petition demanded these athletes have their voices heard. Such unified outcries led to the NFL ‘s commissioner reversing course and declaring ahead of the season’s start: “the NFL is out of the business of sanctioning or discouraging any player from taking a knee.”

Several teams have since embraced this muzzle of free speech finally being lifted. The season opener featured a display of brotherhood in which the opposing teams joined in a “moment of unity.” Other teams would follow suit in the opening weeks by locking arms, with some kneeling, praying, or choosing to stay in their locker rooms pre-game.

The league has also taken other decisive steps to allow players more freedom in the wake of high-profile cases involving killings of minorities. For example, players can wear gear honoring victims of racial injustice or appealing for reform. At one game, the words “End Racism” were stenciled onto the field before the game. The league also acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement by playing the unofficial Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” along with the traditional anthem.

Sign the petition below to endorse the NFL’s newfound support for free speech and the fight for racial equality.


Dear Mr. Goodell,

You will inevitably face backlash from some—especially some in high positions—for your realization that yes, even athletes are not robots but human beings with thoughts, feelings, and the constitutional right to express those thoughts and feelings. Thank you for stepping aside and allowing these athletes to have their say, especially at such a tumultuous period in this country’s history. Some may claim kneeling is a sign of disrespect, even though this action has served as an ultimate show of respect for religions and cultures throughout history.  Some may say that sports and issues of the larger world do not mix, but for decades sports have been a platform for change and a social trailblazer.

Athletes are role models for so many youths and they have the power to make such a meaningful difference. Know that many Americans support these players and the league that is giving them back their voices.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Henry Brown


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