The first step on the road to Roger Goodell’s admission that he and the NFL “were wrong” was taken by a league employee going rogue.
The video that included Saquon Barkley, Patrick Mahomes and Michael Thomas asking for the league to “listen to your players,” in the wake of George Floyd’s death, was spearheaded by Bryndon Minter, according to multiple reports. The NFL creative producer reached out to Thomas on Wednesday night asking if the star Saints wide receiver wanted to collaborate on a video that would make the league hear them.
“Want to help you create content to be heard around the league,” Minter wrote to Thomas in a direct message on Instagram, Yahoo Sports reported. “I’m a NFL social employee and am embarrassed by how the league has been silent this week. The NFL hasn’t condemned racism. The NFL hasn’t said that Black Lives Matter.
“I want [to] help you put the pressure on. And arm you with a video that expresses YOUR voice and [what] you want from the League. Give me a holler if you’re interested in working together, thanks bro!”
That got the ball rolling, with Thomas quickly agreeing and bringing in fellow black stars across the league. Thomas, Minter and Nick Toney, another NFL social media employee, worked on the script that night. Its finished product asked the league to “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” admit it was “wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting,” and say it believed that, “Black Lives Matter.”
Minter had gone behind his superiors’ back to initiate the video, but let them in on it Thursday morning, which resulted in a Zoom call.
“And I was ready to lose my job on that Zoom,” Minter told Yahoo.
Instead, it led to the desired answer from Goodell — and Minter’s job is safe.
“We’re proud of him, and his work,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Athletic.
Minter lauded Thomas for playing a huge role in the video, recruiting the other players — there were 17 in total — that appeared in the video that went public Thursday night.
“(Mike) is the whole reason it started, and we were able to get names like Odell [Beckham Jr.], Saquon, it was incredible,” Minter told The Athletic. “He was constantly checking in while dealing with the [Drew] Brees situation…fielding these requests from all of the players. He sent (me) all of these videos of these guys reading every single line, video by video…Mike was a star. It was a Herculean effort from him.”
By Friday night, the NFL released a video in response with Goodell finally saying what the players wanted to hear.
“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said. “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.”