Players Criticize N.F.L. Over Donation Proposal

Players Criticize N.F.L. Over Donation Proposal


In a statement, a league spokesman denied that there was any quid pro quo. “The league and owners are working together with players on issues important to all parties to make our communities better.”

In a statement, Jenkins said that he could not discuss the proposal specifically because internal discussions were continuing, but said that he was “encouraged” by the league’s “commitment to our cause.”

Jenkins said he was surprised by Reid’s decision to leave the group. But, he added, “whenever you get as many players as we have involved in the coalition, there’s always differences of opinions. But we have made a real effort to make sure that everyone has been included, they’ve been informed and it’s been a pretty transparent process.”

The plan, the details of which were first reported by ESPN, calls for donations of up to $100 million over seven years from the league, owners and players to organizations like the United Negro College Fund and Dream Corps. According to a draft of the proposal obtained by ESPN, owners would contribute $5 million next year, with their contribution growing to $12 million by 2021. Owners would also contribute up to $250,000, with players matching that amount, to local causes in their team’s region.

On Wednesday, the players coalition appears to have approved the plan over the protests of Reid and the other players who left the group, which means the owners would most likely vote on it at their annual meeting in March.

The league also has been considering a change to its national anthem policy. The new plan does not include language that obligates players to stand during the anthem, though Reid said that it is implied that players should stop their protests.

The league and the members of the Players Coalition, which is made up of roughly 20 players, some of whom have been silently protesting during the national anthem since last season, have been talking with the league since August. Their discussions accelerated in the weeks after President Trump criticized the league for not penalizing players who did not stand during the anthem.

The players’ group, though, has fractured, raising questions about how many players will approve the N.F.L.’s plan and about whether the agreement will lead to an end to the protests, which have divided the owners and caused concern among the league’s broadcast partners and sponsors.

In October, Russell Okung, a lineman for the Los Angeles Chargers and a member of the coalition, took the owners to task for making decisions on anthem demonstrations without broadly consulting the players.

Reid, who has continued to kneel even though Kaepernick left the 49ers after last season, also criticized Jenkins last month for calling a meeting with Goodell and others without consulting with other players in the coalition.

On Tuesday, Reid said Jenkins had been negotiating directly with the league, trying to secure donations in return for players’ agreeing to end their protests. He said that under the plan, a group of five owners, five players and two league officials would decide how to donate the money. Reid said players would lack power in that scenario because the owners and league officials would outnumber the players.

“That is just simple math,” Reid said. “If it came down to a vote, the players would lose every time.”

While hundreds of players protested in the weeks after the president first criticized the players and the league, that number has dwindled to about two dozen players who have continued kneeling or sitting during the national anthem — about as many as were protesting before the president began his series of attacks.

The president, though, has continued to attack the league on Twitter, saying that the league’s declining television ratings and attendance are a result of its unwillingness to force the players to stop their protests.

Reid, though, said that he would continue protesting during the anthem, regardless of whatever deal is struck.

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