The Minnesota Vikings‘ Ameer Abdullah believes the NFL can help push social justice causes like Black Lives Matter forward quite a bit more than the league has done so far. The running back appeared on a Tuesday night roundtable discussion on NFL Total Access, where he spoke about the power of players’ voices during tumultuous times.
“The NFL holds great power,” Abdullah said, according to Grant Gordon of NFL.com. “Just understanding that influence that we have on the youth and how malleable the youth are… we can really spark a real psychological change in this nation.”
Abdullah also talked about how kids wanting to grow up being their favorite players like Kyle Rudolph or Eric Kendricks gives them a way to talk to the children, helping them understand the importance of movements like Black Lives Matter. He added an organization like the NFL has a duty to use its position to push the movement forward through action.
The Vikings’ running back said he was quite pleased to see commissioner Roger Goodell admit he hadn’t listened to players’ voices enough. Goodell released a video not long after the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter demonstrations started all over the country. In that video, the commissioner admitted he hadn’t listened to players when they staged peaceful protests, like what Colin Kaepernick attempted to do when he knelt during the national anthem.
Abdullah joined in those protests starting in 2017, when he was with the Detroit Lions. Blake Schuster of Bleacher Report recently wrote the running back wasn’t going to allow Kaepernick’s message to fade away just because the quarterback was out of the league.
The ‘back said he believes individual players kneeling during the national anthem was a good first step. He went on to say he’d like to see a more uniform approach with entire teams this coming season. He added he understands the reactions to players kneeling could be similar to what it has been over the years. He’s prepared to hear people say players are disrespecting the flag. However, Abdullah said he also believes more people are starting to understand the kneeling is about police brutality and not about hating the country or the flag.
Abdullah stated he thinks the movement is on the right path, in part because he said he’s seen a more diverse crowd at protests.
“Where before this was completely seen as a black issue, right, and people are starting to understand this is a human issue. When I protested back in 2017 during the national anthem, when Kaepernick first started taking a knee, I got a lot of push back, got a lot of push back. A lot of people who I thought were in my corner, kinda flipped on me.”
He added that he believes before one can have peace, they must have war. The war isn’t always one where bullets are flying, he clarified. Sometimes it’s just a war of words, but he said he believes the NFL can help win that war for social justice issues.