Roger Goodell opens up about the much-needed conversation he had with his Black nephew

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3-min read

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was watching an episode of former linebacker Emmanuel Acho’s digital show, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” when he realized something about his own life.

He needed to talk with his nephew, Charlie.

‘We’ve got to make this world better’

Goodell sat down with Acho for a two-part series that aired on Sunday and Monday. They discussed a number of topics in the digital show, including former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and protesting by kneeling during the national anthem.

Early in the show on Monday, Goodell watched a segment from an earlier episode that featured a multiracial family and children being both scared and saddened when seeing Black people being killed by white people in the news.

“It’s just sad that somebody might do that to people that look like me or Amus just because out of hatred of our skin color,” a girl said on the show while fighting back tears.

Goodell looked a bit shaken up as he watched that clip on a tablet, a rare sight from the league’s commissioner.

“Seeing somebody live in that kind of fear is just not right,” Goodell said. “We’ve got to fix that. We’ve got to make this world better, because it’s just not right.”

He said that segment made him realize that he needed to talk to his brother’s son, Charlie, who is Black — something he said he didn’t really recognize before.

He never thought that the fear the children in the video had was something that Charlie could be feeling, too.

"I don't look at him as a Black nephew, I look at him as my nephew. He's named after my father, Charlie Goodell,” he said. “It's my youngest brother and he actually has adopted two other kids. I just look at him as my nephew.

“So I didn't think about, does he have that fear when he's walking out and does he really think that he's in danger every time he walks outside of the building."

Goodell: NFL won’t discipline players for kneeling

Goodell and Acho again talked about players protesting during the national anthem, something that was heavily discussed in the first part of the series.

Goodell was asked in the interview that was released on Sunday what he would say if he had the chance to apologize to Kaepernick directly.

“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.

He insisted on Sunday that when players kneel in protest during the national anthem this fall — dozens of players have already committed to doing so — that the league won’t discipline them in any way.

That, he said, would simply be wrong.

“We have never disciplined a single player for anything with the national anthem and in violation, and I don’t intend to,” Goodell said. “I will support it … I don’t think [disciplining them] is the right thing to do.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell opened up about a much-needed conversation he had to have with his Black nephew on Monday. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell opened up about a much-needed conversation he had to have with his Black nephew on Monday. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

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