Source: LM Otero/Associated Press
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell condemned racism, apologized for not listening to black players in the past, and said “black lives matter” in a video released Friday.
- The apology came after an NFL producer reached out to several players before putting out a now-viral video asking the NFL to make such a statement.
- President Trump joined the conversation, first criticizing New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees for apologizing after saying it is ”disrespectful” to kneel in front of the American flag.
- Trump then targeted Goodell specifically on Sunday.
NFL Players Release “I am George Floyd” Video
For the first time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has condemned racism, apologized for not listening to black players’ concerns about racial injustice, and said, “black lives matter.”
Goodell’s statement, made in a video Friday, represents a massive change in stance for the league, which has largely opposed kneeling during the national anthem since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first did it in 2016.
Goodell reportedly recorded his video after watching a now-viral video from multiple black NFL players, who themselves were responding to comments made by New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance Wednesday, Brees said he believed kneeling was “disrespectful” to the American flag. Soon afterward, his comments went viral, and he became the subject of intense criticism.
That same day, Bryndon Minter—a creative producer at the NFL—messaged Michael Thomas, a teammate of Brees on the Saints. Minter said he reached out because he was embarrassed by how the league had been silent and not condemned racism or said “black lives matter.”
Minter then pitched working together with Thomas to help make players’ voices heard. Thursday evening, joined by a number of NFL players, they released a video now known as “I am George Floyd.”
In it, the players ask, “What if I was George Floyd?” before ultimately saying that because racial injustice could just as easily happen to them as it did Floyd, “I am George Floyd.” The players then followed that “I am” statement with the names of about a dozen more black people killed by police or others, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin.
Those players also urged the NFL to condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people, to admit it was wrong in silencing players from peacefully protesting, and to say, “black lives matter.”
Goodell Condemns Racism, Says “Black Lives Matter”
For many, that video was a powerful moment of black players standing in solidarity to hold their organization accountable. It was also one that seemed to pay off as it was later reported that Goodell himself was also moved by the video.
In fact, according to an executive close to Goodell, “Roger felt like they were speaking directly to him. There’s been a lot of self reflection going on across the league.”
The next day, Goodell released a video statement where he answered many of the requests made in the players’ video and said, “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. 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. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
Notably, that is is the first time Goodell has publicly said “black lives matter.” It’s also the first time the NFL has apologized for how it’s responded to black players.
In the past, Goodell condemned kneeling, saying that players should stand for the national anthem. At one point, he even endorsed a short-lived policy that would have forced them to stand.
Still, Goodell’s response did not fully satisfy many because while he apologized for how the NFL responded to black players, he did not apologize for the NFL’s stance on kneeling. In fact, Goodell never makes a specific mention to kneeling. He also never mentions Kaepernick.
“The NFL should explicitly say Colin Kaepernick’s name,” sports journalist Taylor Rooks said. “Can’t acknowledge the right to protest & not have his actions stated.”
Rooks also noted how much power those players in the “I am George Floyd” video have, saying, “SO much more to be done, but a lot can be accomplished when players speak as one.”
Goodell’s statement comes after a May 30 tweet where he said, “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.”
“We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as a 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.”
That tweet also received heavy criticism for not making any mention of racial injustice and for not addressing the NFL’s history with Kaepernick, who at one point, sued the NFL for allegedly colluding to blacklist him.
“@NFL what actual steps are you taking to support the fight for justice and system reform?,” NFL players like Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr said. “Your statement said nothing. Your league is built on black athletes. Vague answers do nothing. Let the players know what you’re ACTUALLY doing. And we know what silence means.”
Trump Blasts Brees and Goodell for Apologizing
President Donald Trump was among those criticizing Brees and Goodell for changing or seemingly changing their stances on kneeling during the national anthem.
“I am a big fan of Drew Brees,” the president said on Friday. “I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag.”
“NO KNEELING,” he followed up.
Sunday night, Trump then took aim at Goodell.
On Instagram, Brees directly responded to the president’s criticism, saying, “…this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”
“We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform.”
“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”
Whether Goodell’s comments signify a serious change for the NFL remains to be seen as it won’t just require changes to executives and policies; rather, it will need to address whole teams, their players, sponsors, and even fans.
For example, last week, the Washington Redskins supported the protests by tweeting #BlackOutTuesday. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) then responded by calling the team out for the controversy around its name and mascot, saying: “Want to really stand for racial justice? Change your name.”
See what others are saying: (Yahoo Sports) (The Wall Street Journal) (ESPN)
Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations After Controversial Nods to Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K.
CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said the Academy is not “in the business of restricting people” from getting nominated.
Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. defended Tuesday’s Grammy nominations after artists like Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K. received nods for their work.
Manson was nominated for his appearance on Kanye West’s album “Donda,” which landed in the Album of The Year category. Earlier this year, Manson was accused of sexual assault, rape, and psychological abuse by multiple victims.
C.K., who previously admitted to sexual misconduct, was nominated for Best Comedy Album.
While speaking to The Wrap, Mason argued that the Recording Academy should not consider an artist’s personal life in its nomination process.
“We won’t restrict the people who can submit their material for consideration,” he told the outlet when specifically asked about Manson’s nomination. “We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria. If it is, they can submit for consideration.”
Even though Mason believes artists with serious accusations levied against them should not be excluded from nominations, he did say the Academy will consider those factors when it comes to performances and other on-camera appearances.
“What we will control is our stages, our shows, our events, our red carpets,” he explained. “We’ll take a look at anyone who is asking to be a part of that, asking to be in attendance, and we’ll make our decisions at that point. But we’re not going to be in the business of restricting people from submitting their work for our voters to decide on.”
Other Controversial Nods
Manson and C.K. were not the only controversial figures who received nominations. Comedian Dave Chappelle was nominated in Best Spoken Word Album for his special “8:46.” Last month, he faced severe backlash for transphobic comments he made in a separate special titled “The Closer.” Chappelle was slammed by several major LGBTQ+ organizations over the special but has defended himself against criticisms.
Rapper DaBaby was also condemned by LGBTQ+ groups this summer after he made homophobic remarks during her performance at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami. He received Grammy recognition for his work on “Donda” and Justin Bieber’s “Justice.”
The Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2022.
See what others are saying: (The Wrap) (Pitchfork) (Rolling Stone)
Kevin Spacey Ordered To Pay “House of Cards” Studio $31 Million for Losses After Sexual Misconduct Claims
The studio argued that Spacey cost it millions after multiple sexual harassment and abuse claims against the actor forced it to suspend production, fire him, and shorten the show’s final season.
Arbitration Between MRC and Spacey Becomes Public
Actor Kevin Spacey and his production companies have been ordered to pay nearly $31 million dollars for breach of contract to MRC, the studio behind the Netflix series “House of Cards.”
The ruling was actually made by an arbitrator more than a year ago but was only made public Monday when MRC’s lawyers petition a California court to confirm the award.
Spacey was a centerpiece of the hit series and also served as one of its executive producers. However, during filming for its final season in 2017, an actor named Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when Rapp was 14 in 1986.
Netflix suspected production in the wake of Rapp’s claims, but soon after, others came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Spacey, including several former and then-current crew members of “House of Cards.”
Netflix eventually fired Spacey, whose list of accusers grew to at least 15 people.
MRC Blames Spacey for Production Losses
In the secret arbitration last year, MRC argued that Spacey “repeatedly breached his contractual obligations.” It added that he and his companies are liable for his behavior, which allegedly caused the studio to lose millions given what it had already invested in developing, writing, and shooting the final season.
MRC also said the Emmy-winning series brought in less revenue when it finally aired because it had to be shortened from 13 to 8 episodes to write out Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood.
According to Variety, Spacey filed a counterclaim, alleging that he was owed money after he was dropped from the series and did not breach his contract. That claim was later rejected and the arbitrator ultimately agreed with MRC, issuing the massive reward, which includes compensatory damages and lawyers’ fees.
Spacey and his team have not commented on the news as of Tuesday, though the studio has since issued a statement saying, “The safety of our employees, sets and work environments is of paramount importance to MRC and why we set out to push for accountability.”
See what others are saying: (Variety) (CNN) (The New York Times)
Netflix Staffers Who Criticized Dave Chappelle Rescind Labor Complaint, One Resigns
Two employees previously accused Netflix of trying to stop staffers from speaking out against the company.
Employees Rescind Labor Complaint
Two former Netflix employees who were critical of Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special have rescinded a labor complaint that they filed against the company, according to a statement released by their lawyer on Monday.
Terra Field and B. Pagels-Minor were outspoken about their issues with Chappelle’s special “The Closer,” which was widely accused of transphobia. Both protested the company’s decision to support Chappelle amid the controversy. They were also members of a resource group for transgender employees that staged a walkout in which staffers took to the streets of Los Angeles to call on Netflix to do more to support its LGBTQ+ employees.
Field and Pagels-Minor filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in October claiming that Netflix was punishing its staffers for speaking up about Chappelle and LGBTQ+ related issues at the company.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the two staffers accused Netflix of attempting “to quell [them] from speaking up about working conditions including, but not limited to, seeking to create a safe and affirming work environment for Netflix employees, speaking up about Netflix’s products and the impact of its product choices on the LGBTQ+ community, and providing support for employees whom Netflix has treated in an unlawful and disparate manner.”
On Monday, Netflix released a statement saying the complaint had been rescinded.
“We have resolved our differences in a way that acknowledges the erosion of trust on both sides and, we hope, enables everyone to move on,” the statement said.
A lawyer representing Field and Pagels-Minor confirmed that the complaint was voluntarily withdrawn.
Terra Field Resigns From Netflix
Both Pagels-Minor and Field were subject to some level of disciplinary action during the Chappelle controversy. Pagels-Minor was fired from Netflix for allegedly leaking internal information, though Pagels-Minor denies ever doing so. Field was suspended from the company after reportedly attending a meeting she was not invited to. That suspension was quickly lifted after it was revealed that a miscommunication led to the incident.
On Monday, Field released a statement announcing that she had resigned from Netflix.
“This isn’t how I thought things would end, but I am relieved to have closure,” Field wrote. “Shortly after B. was fired for something I did not and do not believe they did, I made a decision: sink or swim, I was going to walk side by side with B. as they had for so many of us while they led the Trans* ERG.”
In a tweet, she added that she was “not happy that this is how things turned out” but believed “this outcome is best for all parties involved.”
Why Did Dave Chappelle Spark Backlash?
Chappelle faced backlash for defending author J.K. Rowling, who was previously accused of being a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) after releasing a series of statements many found to be transphobic.
“I’m team TERF,” Chappelle said during “The Closer.”
“I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact,” he added.
Chappelle made a series of other jokes aimed at the transgender community in the special, including one about Caitlyn Jenner and another comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
The comedian has defended himself against criticisms. According to The Daily Beast, he also recently continued to make transphobic jokes at screenings of his new documentary. The outlet reported that while Chappelle aired the film in New York, he made jabs about pronouns and “said the f-slur.”