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Emmanuel Acho: Donald Trump can’t ‘dictate’ the perception of the NFL

In this episode of Influencers, Andy speaks with former NFL player and 'Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man' author, Emmanuel Acho, about President Trump's criticism of professional football.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has criticized NFL players. Do you think the perception of the league and its players will shift after Donald Trump leaves office?

EMMANUEL ACHO: It's a good question. I think that the perception of the players, I don't know that it's so much affected by the presidency. What I mean by that is one man nor one woman should be able to dictate your feelings and emotions on oppression, injustice, and racism. Like, these are historical contexts with generational meanings. So what one person tells you, whether it's Emmanuel Acho, whether it's the president, whoever it is, that shouldn't completely dictate your feelings about something. Do your homework. Do your research. Let your own empathy be created through your own understanding. So I don't, I don't think one person can singlehandedly dictate the emotions about an indiv-- about a collective system or organization.

ANDY SERWER: You said the NFL has the right intentions, but needs to take it in the right direction. What concrete steps do you think the NFL should take to support the fight for racial justice?

EMMANUEL ACHO: Well, the first thing is, everybody has to understand the fight. I sat down with Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell. Yeah, he's the commissioner. But to a degree, he can have all the authority and no power at times. Remember, there are 32 organizations. 32 different cities -- different teams, not 32 different cities, but enough different cities. The need in the different cities is different. So it can't be just one one-size-fits-all type of mantra. The need in Dallas is different than the need in Los Angeles, which is different than the need in Phoenix or Glendale, Arizona. The individual owners have to collectively realize, what does my city need?

But how does that start? It starts by talking to your players. Roger Goodell said, yeah, I heard about the injustice, but it wasn't until I went on a ride-along that I really understood it. These owners, they're hearing things. Oh, I see my players are kneeling, raising a fist. But do they really understand it? It has to go from head knowledge to heart knowledge.