The NFL endorsed criminal justice reform legislation Monday, despite national outcry that the organization should work to distance itself from political debate.
The NFL-backed bipartisan legislation introduced last week by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the Washington Post reported. The legislation would cut mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, give judges more discretion to tailor sentences to individual offenders, and establish programs to prepare low-level offenders to re-enter society.
“We felt that this was an issue over the last months, as we have continued to work with our players on issues of equality and on issues of criminal justice reform, that was surfaced for us, and we thought it was appropriate to lend our support to it,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters. (RELATED: Kaepernick Files Grievance Against The NFL)
The endorsement comes amid national debate over NFL players kneeling during the pregame national anthem in protest against law enforcement’s alleged institutional mistreatment of minorities.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the trend of kneeling during the national anthem before a game last season. Several teams have followed suit this year, leading to heavy criticism from President Donald Trump.
WATCH THE STEELERS STAY IN THE LOCKER ROOM FOR THE ANTHEM:
The legislation already has a wide base of support from organizations like the Charles Koch Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Americans for Tax Reform. As a result, the NFL’s endorsement is unlikely to make a difference in the bill’s future.
Grassley and Durbin have nevertheless welcomed the NFL’s support, despite the organization’s divisive climate.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, who endorsed the bill but has also loudly criticized the NFL, did not respond a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication.
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