Amid the NFL’s increased awareness about social justice issues, Goodell said that he was "thankful" that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback raised concerns when he did 4 years ago.
"I said very clearly back in June that we wish we had listened to our players earlier, and we had a lot of players that were coming and bringing these issues to us," he told reporters, via the Mercury News. "It didn’t start last summer; it started over two years ago and we’ve been working with the Players Coalition over that period of time."
Goodell added: "Colin was one of the individuals who obviously brought a great deal of attention to this, and, for that, he deserves our recognition for that and appreciation."
Goodell expressed remorse over the summer about not listening to Kaepernick sooner when he was kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness about racial injustice and police brutality.
"I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to," he told FOX Sports’ Emmanuel Acho in August. "We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that; we never did. We would have benefited from that, absolutely."
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the NFL and Goodell released a video statement saying "Black Lives Matter."
Kaepernick may not be making an appearance on the field at the Super Bowl but his presence was felt through the Tampa, Fla., area. Ben & Jerry’s put up billboards with the ex-quarterback’s face on them to promote his activism.