DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It was a highly anticipated event that ended looking, well, a little like a tie game - no real resolution. We're talking about yesterday's meeting between NFL owners and players in New York City. They met to discuss the controversy over recent protests - players sitting or kneeling during the national anthem.
And while they did not emerge with any kind of deal, the NFL and players' union issued a joint statement calling the meeting productive. They plan to reconvene today. And to talk about this, I'm joined by Jesse Washington from ESPN's The Undefeated.
JESSE WASHINGTON: Good morning, David.
GREENE: So did you get the sense there was any kind of closure yesterday?
WASHINGTON: No closure, but I was encouraged. It did seem like there was some significant progress towards solving this issue.
GREENE: What was the progress that you find encouraging?
WASHINGTON: What I see is what the owners are saying and what the owners are intending to do. The commissioner, Roger Goodell, said, this meeting reflects our commitment to work together on issues of social justice. Since when have you heard the NFL ever talking about social justice before?
These are a group of plutocrats, these owners, who've been encouraged - some might say forced - to listen to the concerns of the underprivileged and disadvantaged black community, and I think that's a big deal.
GREENE: Well, let's talk about what exactly both sides hope to get out of these meetings - on one side, the players who, you know, believe that these issues are important enough that they want to sit or kneel during the national anthem, and owners who, I presume, just want to get past this controversy.
WASHINGTON: That's right. Let's make no mistake about it. The owners want to get back to the business of making money - lots of money. The NFL is the most popular sport in America. And these protests have put a dent in at least their TV ratings, if not their revenue yet. The players want to engage in the issues.
The players don't really want to be kneeling. They're kneeling to draw attention to a problem in the black community, and they want people to address that problem. So their goal is to get the NFL behind some of these solutions that they're proposing. And from what the owners are saying, it looks like they are inching toward that.
GREENE: And so they're going to reconvene today, and I gather, just keep talking about some of these solutions, maybe getting more specific.
WASHINGTON: That's correct. And, you know, really, I pay close attention to what the owners were saying, coming out of this meeting. And so Jed York, the owner of the 49ers, which is the team where these protests began with Colin Kaepernick last season - he said, I think you'll see several weeks of the season that are dedicated to socioeconomic and racial causes. So this is starting to get specific. Several weeks of a NFL season dedicated to racial causes, to racial justice - I consider that huge.
GREENE: What does that mean? I mean, does it mean the league just saying that, we are focusing on those issues on a given week or part of the schedule? Does it mean donating to causes? What do you think these players specifically want to see from the NFL that would satisfy them?
WASHINGTON: Well, I think a lot of this revolves around law enforcement. And I think that they would like to see the league - you know, breast cancer awareness is something that the league has embraced, and you see all the players wearing pink, and it's something that has permeated the consciousness of NFL fans. When you see that color, you think of the cause. So that does mean money is donated. That means programs are supported.
I would certainly think that you're going to see law enforcement and the black community being brought together to discuss these issues to ease some of the tension that has arisen with the deaths of unarmed African-Americans in these past few years. So it's going to be a wide range of things that the players hope to see actually happening in the real world, not just being talked about.
GREENE: You mentioned Colin Kaepernick starting much of this debate. He was not in the room, as I understand it. I mean, are you convinced that the key players who this is very important to were actually there, or were some of them not involved in these discussions?
WASHINGTON: Well, I definitely think that active players who have been at the forefront, have picked up the baton from Colin Kaepernick were there. Apparently, Kap was invited by the players who wanted him to be there but not by the league or the owners. So that's a key piece of this that will probably - I think he will be there eventually, moving forward.
GREENE: Jesse Washington is a senior writer for ESPN's The Undefeated. Jesse, thanks again. We appreciate you joining us, and take care.
WASHINGTON: Thank you.
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