President Donald Trump asked NFL players to provide him with a list of people they wanted to see pardoned. Instead, they largely asked for the president to tackle criminal justice reform.
Trump told reporters earlier in June that he was going to ask NFL players who protested the national anthem to recommend people who were “unfairly treated.”
“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that's what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” he said.
Watch the video below:
However, they asserted that a “handful of pardons” isn't enough to address the “systemic injustice” that drove players to protest the national anthem.
“If President Trump thinks he can end these injustices if we deliver him a few names, he hasn't been listening to us,” the players wrote.
Instead of providing Trump with a list of names, the players made some requests that were slightly more far-reaching, including:
- Issuing a blanket pardon for people similar to Johnson who have already served lengthy sentences
- Order the release of any drug offender over the age of 60 whose conviction is not recent.
- Eliminate life without parole for nonviolent offenses
The players asserted that if Trump made the above changes, it would “positively affect” thousands of lives and have a “lasting beneficial effect” on many more.
“His ability to change the lives of people for the better is immense,” they wrote. “We hope he uses it, not just for the few, but for the many.”
Along with the op-ed, various players vocalized their opinion on what actions Trump should take on Twitter.
Boldin said in a video that there are tons of people that deserve a pardon but don't know a celebrity or NFL player to help them get their case heard.
Instead, he implored Trump to enact a policy change for nonviolent drug offenders:
Mr.President please use your pardon &platform to change lives of thousands by issuing categorical pardons for those who received death-in-prison punishments & have already served lengthy sentences for non-violent drug crimes @realDonaldTrump #justice READ: https://t.co/lS26foLeQn pic.twitter.com/Ui7dcGrH4C
Boldin's message for Trump was echoed by New England Patriots players Devin and Jason McCourty:
Currently over half of the women & men sentenced to die in federal prison are for non-violent offenses. Mr. President, please use your voice to promote a proactive policy to end life without parole for non-violent offenses @realDonaldTrump #justice READ: https://t.co/hCWnYFzAAL
As well as by Philadelphia Eagles player Rodney McLeod:
New Orleans Saints player Demario Davis also advocated for prison reform for drug offenders but specifically pointed to the “elderly population” of the incarcerated:
By 2019 the elderly population will make up 28% of federal prison population. Mr. President please pardon any drug offender over the age of 60 and/or already served 20 years by compassionate release as they pose little to no risk @realDonaldTrump #justice https://t.co/d3sHYzFZhO
Philadelphia Eagles player Chris Long also advocated for pardoning nonviolent drug offenders as well as reforming sentencing for marijuana-based crimes.
.@realDonaldTrump because you asked... An op-ed from our @playercoalition and my more personal thoughts on pardoning a population, not just a few. Even if all these pardons were carried out, reform is needed. (THREAD) pic.twitter.com/2ghzR6sJj7
The players concluded their New York Times article with the declaration that they aren't “fighting injustice” because they're professional athletes, but because they're American citizens.
“We weren't elected to do this,” they wrote. “We do it because we love this country, our communities and the people in them. This is our America, our right.”