Roger Goodell needed to say something. The topic that once threatened the NFL’s multibillion-dollar empire—player protests against police brutality during the national anthem—was back. And the commissioner needed to stop the league from tearing itself apart again in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Over 72 supercharged hours late last week, superstar players sniped at each publicly and put unprecedented pressure on the league to fight racism and endorse their ability to protest against it.

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