NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin co-signed a letter sent to congressional leaders in support of a bipartisan legislative bill that seeks criminal justice reform.
The letter states the NFL is offering its “full support” of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, which seeks reforms and targets enhanced mandatory minimums for prior drug felons, increases judicial discretion for sentencing, and reforms enhanced mandatory minimums and sentences.
“The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would address many of the issues on which our players have worked to raise awareness of over the last two seasons,” the letter, which is dated Oct. 16, reads. “… If enacted, it would be a positive next step in our collective efforts to move our nation forward.”
The bill was written by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in 2015.
Asked Monday about a potential pushback from the White House, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said he didn’t know the President Donald Trump’s position on the bill.
“I know that this has overwhelming bipartisan support, and we think it’s the right thing to do, so that is our focus right now,” he said.
Baldwin discussed the letter after the Seahawks’ practice on Tuesday, saying the letter came about organically and is an important step in unifying the NFL community.
“If you look at the players,” he said, “we’re utilizing the largest platform we have and so now, in a search for using the largest source of resources that we have, which is the NFL — the NFL has a government affairs office that does a lot of work — so being able to utilize that resource and make changes that we want to see obviously as players and the causes that we care about so passionately about, I thought that was a step in the right direction of us unifying the NFL community and going in the right direction toward progress.”
Having Goodell co-sign the letter was also important, Baldwin said.
“I think again the important aspect of it is us having a unified effort. We don’t want to be divided anymore. We don’t want to continue with this divisive rhetoric, we don’t want to engage with this divisive rhetoric. We want to start showing our players, the NFL itself, the NFL community that we can be collectively united to seek the changes that we want to see, which are beneficial to the entirety of society. So I thought it was important that we didn’t do this as individuals but we did it as a collective group.”
ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this story, and information from The Associated Press was used in this report.