Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum and inside linebacker Demario Davis on Wednesday strongly indicated they would support the NFL donating nearly $100 million to social justice causes, which ESPN has reported could soon happen.
But both players said nothing has officially been agreed upon yet.
“I think it’s important for the NFL,” Davis said of the potential contribution. “They very openly said that they want to help us and be behind us. So if we can come upon a good agreement to work together, it just shows that they are doing exactly what they said they would do.”
Beachum told NJ Advance Media that “the conversations have been happening for some time now. It hasn’t been fully agreed upon just yet, but there are some conversations going on. We’ll see where they go from here. There are still a lot of different moving parts and factors that are still being considered.”
Davis and Beachum, both veterans, are part of the Players Coalition, which has worked with the league on promoting social justice causes, in the wake of league-wide national anthem protests that were done to bring attention to social and racial justice issues.
Beachum praised Christopher Johnson, the Jets’ acting owner, for his cooperating in this process. Johnson’s older brother, non-acting Jets owner Woody Johnson, was a big-money supporter of President Donald Trump’s election.
Woody is currently Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, which is why Christopher is in charge. Trump has vulgarly ripped NFL players who choose to peacefully protest the anthem. But Beachum said he isn’t holding the Trump support against Christopher.
“I don’t get into this whole political thing, where who voted for who,” Beachum said. “Every person deserves forgiveness. Every person has an opportunity to do something impactful each and every day. I can only speak to the experience that I’ve had with Chris, and the authenticity that he’s had, and the conversations that we’ve had.
“I’m not going to get into his political views or my political views. For me, it’s about what’s most important, and most important is having a listening ear.”
On Wednesday, ESPN reported the following about the potential NFL donation:
In an unprecedented move for a major professional sports league, the NFL has proposed partnering with its players to effect social justice change, though not all players are in agreement on the proposal.
On Monday, the league submitted to players the final draft of a proposal that, according to documents reviewed by ESPN, would contribute nearly $100 million to causes considered important to African-American communities. The NFL hopes this effort will effectively end the peaceful-yet-controversial movement that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started when he refused to stand for the national anthem last season.
Players are expected to discuss the offer during a scheduled conference call Wednesday night.
However, some players who have actively protested since 2016 are displeased with the NFL’s approach and plan to break from the Players Coalition, a group of roughly 40 players who negotiated with the league office, over how its leaders have handled negotiations.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin are regarded as the leaders of the coalition. Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and 49ers safety Eric Reid tweeted Wednesday that they are withdrawing.
Regardless, the NFL has made its pitch, and although there is no quid pro quo, the hope is that the league’s commitment will create an environment in which players will no longer want to protest.
Money would be good, Beachum said, but there is more to this issue than just that.
“Money helps, but I think just the overall support, not only monetarily, but also just the time and being there,” he said. “It goes beyond football. It’s a human rights issue. This is something I talk about quite a bit. Me and Demario talk about it pretty much every day.”
To that end, Beachum loves how Christopher Johnson has supported him and Davis. (No Jets player has protested the anthem since Kaepernick began protesting.)
“[Johnson] is talking about when we have to go to [community outreach] meetings, whether it’s to the jail, whether it’s to the Senate, he’s talking about going with us,” Beachum said. “So it’s not just players, but the owners also stepping up and understanding some of these issues and how they can play a part on the local level and also on the national level.
“[Johnson] has sat down and he’s listened. We’ve met a number of times. You can tell that it pulls at his heart and he’s genuine about the situation and what we’re trying to do. He is lending his support. To me, that’s been important, understanding what we’re trying to accomplish.”