In October 2017, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act—a bipartisan bill reintroduced in Congress—gained support from a surprising ally: the National Football League.Dan Gartland, “NFL to Endorse Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill,” Sports Illustrated, October 16, 2017.
The NFL, which in 2017 was awash in controversy over player protests of the national anthem—a movement initially started by former quarterback Colin Kaepernick to draw attention to racial injustices plaguing the criminal justice system—announced its support of the bill after several players testified at a congressional forum on criminal justice reform.John Branch, “The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick,” New York Times, September 7, 2017; and Karoun Demirjian and Beth Reinhard, “NFL Endorses Criminal-Justice Reform Bill in the Midst of Anthem Debate,” Washington Post, October 16, 2017. Joe Lockhart, an NFL spokesman, said, “ [W]e have continued to work with our players on issues of equality and on issues of criminal justice reform . . . and we thought it was appropriate to lend our support to it.”Demirjian and Reinhard, “NFL Endorses Reform Bill” (2017).