On Friday, the NFL and league commissioner Roger Goodell released a video statement expressing support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Shortly before the statement was released, some of the biggest names within the NFL released a powerful video demanding the league to do more. Yahoo! Sports reports that a "rogue" employee was responsible for putting the pressure on the league and Goodell to the release statement, but not before they personally contacted Saints receiver Michael Thomas.
In an email sent to Thomas, Bryndon Minter wrote, "Want to help you create content to be heard around the league. I'm an NFL social employee and am embarrassed by how the league has been silent this week." While he wasn't sure that Thomas would even read the email, he was met with a response within 15 minutes. Less than a day later, he got together some of the most prominent black NFL players for the video he released, putting more pressure on the league to say something.
In the days leading up to the statement, NFL employees were reportedly "angry" and "exasperated" that there had been no statements condemning racism. "People cried," NFL social media staffer Nick Toney said. "People were upset. People had prepared statements. People revealed that they hadn't slept in days over this. People asked very direct questions." Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled in protest of police brutality in 2016 and hasn't played in the NFL since 2017, was mentioned several times during these behind-the-scenes conversations.
"We didn't feel like our voices were being heard," added Bryndon Minter. "And that's what ultimately inspired me to go rogue." While he feared that he could lose his job over the move, he realized getting players to force the league to say "Black Lives Matter" was a revelation for employees. He sent some scripts to Michael Thomas, and the Saints receiver immediately started to contact his friends in the league. After his bosses became aware of the move, Minter said he was invited to a Zoom call with his superiors and he was "ready to lose my job on that Zoom." However, Minter was able to finish up the project.
“The players are the league,” Minter said. “Without the players, no one gives a sh*t. Our game is the players, it’s our players’ personalities, it’s our players’ performance, it’s all about them. And if they speak up, they have the power.” While there's still plenty more to be done, Toney added that it's a "turning point" for the league. "The real lesson here is that there's a human side to this league that I hope, and I pray, we embrace going forward."
In the video Goodell released on behalf of the league on Friday, he said, "We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter."