Roughly 70 percent of active players on NFL rosters are Black, and the league sees its mission as making up for past missteps in recognizing social justice initiatives, including kneeling for the national anthem or raising fists. Both practices caused major contention with fans, with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a particular lightning rod who was criticized by President Donald Trump, among others.
A league spokesman told the New York Times that the league wants to use its platform to promote social justice messages.
“It’s an opportunity to highlight messages that are important to the league, players and personnel and our communities,” Brian McCarthy, the N.F.L. spokesman, said on Saturday. “We’ve seen tremendous work done by our players to make an impact, and we can increase that through the high-visibility platform that the N.F.L. provides.”
The NFL is also beginning a program that will spend $250 million over the next 10 years on various initiatives. These include police-community relations, criminal justice reform, education and economic advancement.