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In June, after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recorded a video acknowledging the league failed to listen to its players on issues like systemic racism, including police brutality, President Donald Trump was quick to question the commissioner and his statement. It was one of many times the President and NFL commissioner have been at odds with one another.

It turns out, Trump isn’t the first President to have a few choice words for a member of the Goodell family. In Emmanuel Acho’s first part of a two-part interview with the commissioner on his YouTube Series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, Goodell explains how his father also came under attack from another President.    

Roger Goodell posts video admitting NFL was wrong

When a group of high-profile NFL players created a video in early June asking the league to acknowledge its past failings in its handling of Colin Kaepernick and his peaceful protest of police brutality, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded within 24 hours. 

“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”

Goodell’s video message was almost verbatim of what the players had requested. While he didn’t directly apologize to Colin Kaepernick, many players believed he was sincere in his words and it was a step in the right direction.  

President Trump has repeatedly criticized Roger Goodell

In the White House, the President wasn’t as receptive to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s video and, as has been his modus operandi since he arrived in office, he took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction a couple of days later.  

“Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?”

In mid-August, Trump took another shot at Goodell for his comments in June and even mocked the commissioner’s clothing in the video, comparing him to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“He’s going to kill football. People aren’t going to watch,” the President said on the show America This Week.” “I thought this was over. And then Roger Goodell, from his basement, like Biden, in a blue t-shirt as opposed to a suit – he looks much more handsome in a suit. But Roger Goodell got out and made the statement in August or July – out of nowhere – talking about this whole thing that he’s doing.”

Goodell discusses President Nixon attacking his father

Roger Goodell’s father, Charles, was a Republican who served multiple terms as a member of the House of Representatives representing New York. In 1968, Goodell was appointed to the Senate filling the vacancy following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. 

In 1970, during the throes of the Vietnam War, Charles Goodell originally supported the conflict. However, his opinion changed over time as he visited with students on various college campuses in New York who were being drafted. Goodell explained his father’s decision to change to Emmanuel Acho.   

“He was really influenced by that and he came back and sat us all down as a family and said, ‘I made a decision that I’m going to oppose the Vietnam War. It will not be popular with the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. And I will likely not win my re-election for the Senate, but it’s the right thing to do.’

“And so he turned out to be right on the fact he wouldn’t win re-election because the President and Vice President just ripped him and you know, he didn’t have a chance. You know, but he stood up for what he believed. It’s not always easy to know what’s right. When you do know what’s right, you have to have the courage to do it.”

Roger Goodell’s words about his father’s past are powerful. They also provide insight into where he’s been in his own experiences with President Trump, and where he’s headed in the future. He knows the days ahead won’t be easy, but in the end, he would rather be on the right side of history just like his father was on the Vietnam War. 


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