The Associated Press

Houston Texans linebacker Lamarr Houston (58) and cornerback Kevin Johnson (30) kneel during the national anthem before kickoff against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, on Sun., Oct. 29, 2017.
Roxanne Jones, a founding editor of ESPN Magazine and former vice president at ESPN, has worked as a producer, reporter and editor at the New York Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Jones is co-author of “Say it Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete.” She talks politics, sports and culture weekly on Philadelphia’s Praise 107.9 FM. The views expressed here are solely hers.

The NFL excels at many things: marketing, entertainment, making money. Their business model is an American

success story built on the backs of the men, most of them black, who have and still do play the game. Sound familiar?

And without exception, what the league does best is contain and control its overwhelmingly black players’ workforce (70%) and at nearly every turn erase the humanity, identity, culture and even the full citizenship of those men. The browner — and richer — the league has become, the more steadfast team owners have been to limit the power and influence of their workers on the field, and off.

This week, NFL owners walked into their annual meeting focused on quelling a player rebellion, ignited two years ago when one player, Colin Kaepernick, sat down during the National Anthem (he kneeled in later games) in silent protest of police brutality. Then, other players knelt, joined in the call for justice. They began sharing their own experiences with police brutality. And across the nation, the countless police killings of unarmed black and brown children, women and men continued.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick told NFL