Two N.F.L. players who have been kneeling during the national anthem have questioned a plan by the N.F.L. to donate millions of dollars to groups that aid African-American communities.
The players, Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers and Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins, said the proposal had been put together without their consent by the N.F.L. and the two leaders of the so-called Players Coalition: Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles and former wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Reid and Thomas, who have been kneeling during the anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality, said on Twitter that they had left that coalition, a group of players that has worked to support social justice causes, because Jenkins and Boldin “can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole.”
The plan, the details of which were first reported by ESPN, calls for donations of up to $100 million over seven years from the league, owners and players to organizations like the United Negro College Fund and Dream Corps. According to a draft of the proposal obtained by ESPN, owners would contribute $5 million next year, with their contribution growing to $12 million by 2021. Owners would also contribute up to $250,000, with players matching that amount, to local causes in their team’s region.
If the players accept the plan, the owners would most likely vote on it at their annual meeting in March.
Separately, the league is considering a change to its national anthem policy, which currently requires players to be on the sidelines for the anthem but does not explicitly obligate them to stand while it is played. This has led some critics to speculate whether the N.F.L.’s proposal is part of an effort to stop the players from protesting during the anthem.
The league and the members of the Players Coalition, most of whom have been silently protesting during the national anthem since last season, have been talking since August. Their discussions accelerated in the weeks after President Trump criticized the league for not penalizing players who did not stand during the anthem.
The players’ group, though, has fractured, raising questions about how many players will approve the N.F.L.’s plan. In October, Russell Okung, a lineman for the Los Angeles Chargers and a member of the coalition, took the owners to task for making decisions on anthem demonstrations without broadly consulting the players.
Reid, who knelt along with the former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season, also criticized Jenkins last month for calling a meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell and others without consulting with other players in the coalition.
While hundreds of players protested in the weeks after the president first criticized the players and the league, that number has dwindled to about two dozen players who have continued kneeling or sitting during the national anthem — about as many as were protesting before the president began his series of attacks.