Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell signed rapper Jay Z to a joint partnership with the NFL to produce halftime shows and a social justice campaign.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Jay-Z and the NFL were reportedly in talks for over a year. But amidst their celebration, Jay Z and Goodell didn't anticipate the firestorm of controversy that would ensue.

Many were upset that Jay-Z didn't bring blackballed quarterback Colin Kaepernick in on the discussions.

Goodell stayed silent and sidestepped the drama, preferring to let Jay Z defend himself.

Kaepernick was blackballed from the NFL for kneeling during the National Anthem.

Now Goodell acknowledges he was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

Goodell also said the phrase "Black Lives Matter" and, he said it was a step forward for the league.

During ESPN's "The Return of Sports" special on Monday evening, Goodell was asked about the possibility of Kaepernick returning to the NFL.

"Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's gonna take a team to make that decision," Goodell said.

He added that teams are free to sign Kapernick if they believe he will contribute to the team. "I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that," he said.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon questioned Goodell's timing.

"I think we should have been questioning why Roger Goodell didn't say black lives matter when he was born, or when he became commissioner or when he was reelected commissioner... It's not cool that Roger Goodell said it. He should've been saying it."