Members of the Bears linked arms, but everybody on both sidelines stood during the national anthem sung by Jami Eisenstadt, a Baltimore native and University of Maryland grad.
It did not sound like anyone was booing, either.
Last week, commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a memo to the 32 teams stating that the league believes “everyone should stand for the National Anthem” but did not go as far as requiring it. Owners and player representatives will attend the league meetings.
Two Ravens players — wide receiver Mike Wallace and safety Tony Jefferson — said after Goodell’s memo was published that individuals shouldn’t be told what to do during the anthem.
“I feel like they should let us do whatever we want to do,” Wallace said after Wednesday’s practice. “I feel like we’re starting to let the president get into it and make his personal views be the law of our league, which is a privately owned league. So I feel like our views, they don’t want to hear our views.”
“My whole thing is, everyone has their opinions, and at the end of the day, everyone has a right to do whatever they want to do,” Jefferson said. “Even if you don’t agree with someone’s opinion, I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal for people to look down or talk bad about somebody because they feel a certain way.”
In the memo that came to light last Tuesday, Goodell wrote that the attention generated by players’ decisions to kneel or sit during the anthem are “dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.” He called the dispute “a barrier,” adding, “We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and other player leadership will attend the league meetings this week.