Roger Goodell believes NFL players should stand for the national anthem. The commissioner has a plan to help the league get past the current controversy involving the song, he said in a letter sent Tuesday to all 32 teams.
He said this plan will be discussed at the league’s annual fall meetings on Oct. 17-18.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem,” Goodell wrote. “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.
“Building on many discussions with clubs and players, we have worked to develop a plan that we will review with you at next week’s League meeting. This would include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues, and that will help to promote positive change in our country.”
NFL policy currently states that players “should” stand during the national anthem, but players who have not been doing so have not faced discipline from the league.
Last season, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement as a way to protest social injustice. Last month, President Trump called for NFL owners to fire players who take part in such demonstrations, which led to even more similar protests.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence left the 49ers-Colts game in Indianapolis after about a dozen San Francisco players took a knee during the anthem. In addition, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase have stated that their players are not allowed to protest on the sideline in such a manner.
Goodell stated in his letter Tuesday: “Everyone involved in the game needs to come together on a path forward to continue to be a force for good within our communities, protect the game, and preserve our relationship with fans throughout the country. The NFL is at its best when we ourselves are unified. In that spirit, let’s resolve that next week we will meet this challenge in a unified and positive way.”