General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.
Kim Clement | UNITED STATES TODAY SPORTS | Reuters
As the National Football League prepares to enter its 102nd season next week, the league says it is committed to raising awareness about social justice issues and will continually provide top-notch funding.
The NFL has said it will likely exceed its $ 250 million pledge it made in 2020 ahead of a 10-year term. Last year, the NFL increased its tally to tackle issues in minority communities by funding businesses and programs dedicated to issues of systemic racism, criminal justice reform and economic inequality.
In an interview with CNBC, Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s senior vice president of social responsibility, said the league has shelled out around $ 160 million so far, with more than $ 90 million spent in 2020.
“I think we’re going to spend $ 250 million,” Isaacson said, adding that the NFL is “genuinely committed” to tackling the social issues that continue to plague the country.
“We’re in there for the long haul. We are not here only for a short time, and we are here to find solutions to complex problems, ”she said.
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The NFL initially signed its donation agreement in 2017, after players protested over social justice issues, including former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has become the face of the movement. To raise awareness of the high-profile police shootings, NFL players knelt during the national anthem, which led to the formation of the Players Coalition.
The league planned to distribute around $ 89 million to fund social organizations, which helped ease tensions between players and team owners. Last year, he combined those funds with a 2020 commitment, and as a result, he positioned the NFL to surpass $ 250 million by 2027. The money is split between the NFL Foundation matching fund and includes social justice grants approved by the league.
“There’s no way to hit $ 250 million and stop,” Isaacson said. He said the NFL donated more than $ 40 million until last year, when social unrest escalated across the country following the murder of George Floyd. His death in May 2020 helped to further highlight the deep-rooted issues among minorities in disadvantaged areas.
Isaacson said last year’s social unrest, which prompted an apology from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “made a difference” for the NFL. He said the league has entered a “period of self-reflection.”
Isaacson said: “We made mistakes and we are in the process of rebuilding trust. It takes a long time, but our goal is to make an impact and show our genuine commitment. “
When asked what he saw of the NFL during the cooling off period, Isaacson replied, “I saw an organization that has worked hard over the years to make a difference and work more closely with them. players. But Moreover, we are not doing enough – and we have a responsibility to do more.
When discussing the NFL’s $ 250 million pledge, Isaacson was also asked if the promised funding was enough, especially from a league that had just signed a 100 billion media rights deal. of dollars, who is a Most pro in sports.
“You can always say, ‘We can give more,’ said Isaacson. “But you have to look at the big picture and consider the commitment the NFL is making. Leagues and clubs are using all of their assets, networks, digital assets and relationships to raise awareness and advocate for these issues. So it looks like we’re playing our part. We have a big role to play in this and we play that role. “But it’s not the role of the NFL to play alone.”
The message “End Racism” appears on the helmet of # 12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady as he warms up before a game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.
Mike Ehrman | Getty Images
The future of NFL field messaging is still in question
For the 2021 season, the NFL will return to the end zone and reinforce social justice messages around NFL stadiums. Messages including “end racism” will appear in regular season games, the playoffs and Super Bowl LVI in February.
But it’s not clear whether the post will be displayed in the same fashion game for the 2022 season. Isaacson didn’t say whether the on-field signaling will continue for the duration of the 10-year engagement. However, he added that the NFL will include social posts with Inspire Change in future NFL programs.
There is also no clear indication that the NFL will allow posts to continue on team devices after this season, or in licensing agreements with video game companies such as Electronic Arts.
On the front of economic progress, the league has pulled her out of the social justice umbrella, and the NFL seeks to treat that inequality as another issue. Isaacson said the NFL is looking for organizations that “will try to close some of these funding gaps that we are experiencing.”
The NFL last May gave $ 2.5 million to organizations, including Operation HOPE, to help with financial literacy, credit and money management.
“These are American issues that the NFL should play a role in helping,” Isaacson said. “Work is essential and vital in moving our society forward. “