NFL player representatives and league officials reached an agreement Wednesday night for the league to provide financial support to players’ community-activism endeavors, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.
The tentative agreement does not directly address the ongoing protests by NFL players during the national anthem, multiple people familiar close to the situation said earlier in the evening.
Owners have been hopeful that an agreement with the players on activism would lead all players to voluntarily stand for the anthem. But divisions on the players’ side of the issue that became evident earlier Wednesday potentially could lead to the protests continuing even if the deal on activism is in place.
[Trump tweets that NFL is ‘weak and out of control’ because of players’ national anthem demonstrations]
The tentative agreement is subject to final approval by the NFL owners. The owners are scheduled to meet in December in Dallas but might not take up the issue until the annual league meeting in March.
The league and teams are to provide approximately $90 million to $100 million between the onset of the arrangement and 2023 to social causes deemed important by the players, focused in particular on African-American communities, a person familiar with the talks confirmed earlier Wednesday. The terms of the league’s proposal were first reported Wednesday morning by ESPN.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been extremely active in the discussions and has been dealing directly with players, especially those in a group known as the Players Coalition that is led by Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
[Soccer players at Maine high school kneel to protest racial injustice]
Earlier Wednesday, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas announced that they were withdrawing from the Players Coalition, citing differences with Jenkins and Boldin about how the discussions with the league were proceeding.
Reid is closely associated with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the players’ protest movement last season. Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem prior to games to protest the treatment of African Americans in the United States.
Reid joined Kaepernick in those protests and is among the players who have continued to protest during the anthem this season, drawing harsh criticism by President Donald Trump and some NFL fans. The defections of Reid and Thomas from the group of players dealing with the league on the player-activism agreement appear to greatly reduce or eliminate the chances that the agreement will end the players’ protests entirely.
[Opinion: NFL players should respect nation that has blessed them]
Representatives of the players met with owners and NFL leaders in October at the NFL’s offices in New York. The owners then held their regularly scheduled fall meeting and left without enacting a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem.
Goodell and owners said then that they want players to stand for the anthem. But they said most owners were not ready to take action to require it. Goodell and the owners said then they were focused instead on their discussions with the players about activism. They cautioned, however, that there was no explicit or implied agreement that league support of players’ activism necessarily would lead to all players standing for the anthem.
Some owners believe that if the protests last through season’s end, owners will act during the upcoming offseason to revert next season to the league’s pre-2009 policy of leaving players in the locker rooms before games until after the anthem is played, according to multiple people close to the situation.
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.