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Update: Doug Baldwin co-signs letter with Roger Goodell to Senate Judiciary Committee, pens editorial for CNN

Seahawks receiver endorses bill reforming federal sentencing guidelines in cooperation with NFL commissioner

Indianapolis Colts v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

UPDATE 8:30 p.m.: Doug Baldwin writes op-ed about bail reform for CNN with fellow pro football stars. See below.

On a day when NFL executives and players association representatives made a show of coming together to create a dialog toward resolving the league’s internal strife over players protesting police brutality and other injustices and violence in America combined with a debate over the appropriateness of those protests during national anthem performances at football games, many people on the internet are roasting how toothless the resulting joint communication released by both parties sounded:

Likewise, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell together signed a letter Monday to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee offering support for proposed legislation known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a bill aimed at reducing federal mandatory minimum prison sentences and other law enforcement and prison systems regulations. In addition to whatever pledging a football league’s “full support” means, Baldwin’s and Goodell’s letter calls the bill “a positive next step in our collective efforts to move our nation forward” and lists a bunch of things NFL players and teams have done on behalf of “equality and justice”.

The language of the letter matches in some ways the vaguely united tone of the NFL-NFLPA press release, and for the most part serves the same purpose of gesturing toward some of the improvements demanded by the agitating players without otherwise asserting anything to achieve them. If we’re being real, when the letter says, “Over the last two seasons, one particular issue that has come to the forefront for our players and our teams is the issue of justice for all,” it sounds like the NFL congratulating itself on something select players have done on their own initiative, a dubious credit considering the wave of protests is a movement Goodell himself has lately tried to curtail. You can read the whole letter to the Senators here.

However, regardless of your opinion on the SRCA bill itself, or your desire to see the NFL mixing itself in this political arena at all, it is interesting from a Seattle perspective to see Baldwin taking part in such a venture essentially on the same level as the league commissioner. There’s also no doubt Baldwin’s signature helps lend legitimacy to the claims of justice concerns voiced in the statement.

Baldwin consistently displays well-informed awareness about the issues and conflicts involved at the intersection of police engagement with African American communities, for example, and Baldwin has been at the forefront of players actually establishing open communications with state and local law enforcement organizations—in part because Baldwin’s own father was a cop.

UPDATE: Later Tuesday published an opinion editorial written by Baldwin, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and former Arizona Cardinals and 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, all of whom have taken part in various methods of public protest during the past season and a half. Their essay identifies their protests as a cause for “shed[ding] light on the racial disparities within our criminal justice system”—kneeling during the anthem “isn’t about patriotism, it’s a distress signal,” they say—and goes into greater detail about other reforms they hope to see enacted, specifically lowering the high cost of bail bonds for defendants unable to pay them: “At times, the bail system has deadly results,” they write.

So Baldwin’s role in crafting the NFL’s statement of legislative endorsement clearly comes from a genuine place, and I’ll be curious to see what Baldwin’s cooperation with Goodell, and with these other NFL stars, leads to for him and for the Seahawks in the future.