In an interview with Emmanuel Acho’s ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man’ this week, Goodell was asked how he would “apologize” to Kaepernick if he had the chance to do so today.
“Well the first thing I’d say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” Goodell said, according to Radio.com. “We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did.”
Goodell went on to say that the NFL didn’t understand the purpose of kneeling or what it represented.
Now he understands why players are protesting and is frustrated when others mischaracterize their intentions, he said.
“It is not about the flag,” Goodell said. “These are not people who are unpatriotic. They’re not disloyal. They’re not against our military. In fact many of those guys were in the military and they’re a military family. What they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. That misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me.”
Earlier this summer, Goodell and the NFL publicly backed the Black Lives Matter movement and issued an apology to Kaepernick and several other players who were criticized for kneeling during the anthem.
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” the league said in a statement in June.
Goodell has gone out of his way to appease Kaepernick, asking him to advise the NFL’s new diversity council, and even urging various teams in the league to consider signing him.
“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s gonna take a team to make that decision,” Goodell told ESPN in June. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that.”