Support for NFL Kneeling Protests Jumps Double Digits Amid Nationwide Black Lives Matter Demonstrations

A majority of Americans now believe NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem, as support for the movement has jumped double digits amid nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Polling by Yahoo News and YouGov published on Thursday showed that 52 percent of men and 52 percent of women now say it should be "OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans." Among younger Americans, those aged 18 to 29, 68 percent support the kneeling protests.

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. In 2016, just 28 percent of Americans believed the peaceful protest was appropriate. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty

The level of support has jumped dramatically from when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who played for the San Francisco 49ers at the time, began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. At that time, just 28 percent of Americans believed the peaceful protest was appropriate. By 2018, the number had climbed slowly to 35 percent of Americans who backed Kaepernick's and other athletes' actions.

The polling results came after NFL commissioner Roger Goodall officially apologized for blocking the protests and not listening to players in a video message shared on Friday

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. 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," Goodell said in a video posted on the NFL's Twitter page. "We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country."

Goodell's apology and remarks came after a group of players released their own video titled "I am George Floyd," calling on the NFL to apologize and condemn racism. That video came as protests raged across the country over the death of Floyd, a black man, who died in police custody on May 25.

Newsweek reached out to the NFL for comment on the new poll results, but the league did not respond by the time of publication.

President Donald Trump, who long criticized Kaapernick and the kneeling protests, has strongly criticized the NFL for apologizing.

"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?" Trump wrote.

During a September 2017 rally in Alabama, Trump referred to NFL players who kneel in a highly derogatory manner. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired."

Support for NFL Kneeling Protests Jumps Double Digits Amid Nationwide Black Lives Matter Demonstrations | U.S.