NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement Saturday recognizing George Floyd and other black citizens who were killed while unarmed.
Floyd died Monday in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, held his knee on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes while Floyd was handcuffed on the ground. Floyd's death has sparked protests in several U.S. cities.
In his message, Goodell extended condolences to affected families on behalf of the league and said the NFL remains committed to serving as an agent for social change:
The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country. The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger, and frustration that so many of us feel.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those who have lost loved ones, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, the cousin of Tracy Walker of the Detroit Lions.
As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs, and partners.
In a letter to all players addressing recent events, NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith wrote, "it is impossible not to take this personally." He also encouraged players to use the racial diversity of NFL locker rooms to set a strong example for the rest of the country.
The NFL partnered with Roc Nation in August 2019 on a social justice initiative that included a $400,000 donation to two Chicago organizations working to empower at-risk youth.
The league also ran an "Inspire Change" campaign throughout last season, with the improvement of relations between police and communities stated as one of the initiative's three priorities.