The statement was issued in response to the killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck on May 25.
Jackson 42, grew up with Floyd in Houston, Texas, and the pair was so close that they called each other "twin."
Goodell’s statement, which sided with those who are protesting, quickly garnered controversy online. Jackson told ESPN he found it to be “fake” and referenced former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began silent protests during the preseason in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem.
Backlash from his protests — which started the #TakeAKnee Movement — led to Kapernick leaving the 49ers a few months later in March 2017, and he has not played in the NFL since, remaining a free agent.
Colin Kaepernick (right) kneels at an NFL game
"That's so fake, man. It's so fake," Jackson said of the NFL’s statement.
He continued to ESPN, "Why even do it? We know it's not real. We know it's not real. You're making yourself look bad. That's one of those situations where they shouldn't even say nothing, bro. They shouldn't even say nothing. ... If anything, they need to apologize to [Colin] Kaepernick. If they're gonna respond on this type of stuff, start it off with an apology to Kaepernick. Then maybe we'll accept it."
Many had a similar reaction to the statement on social media. Wrote actor Drew Carey, "So ... you’re gonna let @Kaepernick7 back in the league and let him kneel during the National Anthem?"
Added director Ava DuVernay, "Shame on you. This is beyond hollow + disingenuous. This is a lie. Your actions show who you are. You’ve done nothing but the exact opposite of what you describe here. Keep Mr. Floyd’s name out of your mouth. Shame on you + the 'consultants' of this travesty of an organization."
Kaepernick has spoken out in support of the protestors, called revolting "the only logical reaction" when "civility leads to death."
“The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance," he continued on Twitter. "We have the right to fight back! Rest in Power George Floyd.”
The athlete also announced the formation of a legal defense initiative for protesters in Minneapolis funded by the Know Your Rights Camp, an organization he founded.
"In fighting for liberation there's always retaliation," he wrote in one tweet Friday. "We must protect our Freedom Fighters. We started a legal defense initiative to give legal representation to Freedom Fighters in Minneapolis paid for by @yourrightscamp.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.