In a move the NFL hopes will help end the controversial protests by its players, the league has proposed committing $89M over seven years to social justice causes considered important to African-Americans. It’s the first such action ever taken by a major pro sports league.

Citing sources, ESPN reports that the league and a group of players agreed to the plan in principle after a conference call Wednesday night. The league money will go to support causes including law enforcement/community relations, education and criminal justice reform. It will mark the NFL’s largest contribution to any social issue.


The deal’s language does include a call for players to end their on-field protests that include kneeling or not taking the field during the national anthem — an issue that has polarized fans and drawn strong, repeated and ongoing criticism from President Donald Trump. The league, however, certainly hopes the plan will quell those protests.

The money is slated to support local and national causes, with the latter receiving $5M this year and growing annually to a $12M commitment in 2021, 2022 and 2023. At the local level, owners would put up $250,000 annually and expect players to match that amount, totaling $500,000 for each team, ESPN reports. There also would be other fundraising opportunities, including telethons and auctions of jerseys worn in games.