NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 football teams concerning the movement of players not standing, or flat out protesting, during the national anthem before game time, on Tuesday.
In the written memo, Goodell stated that the league believes “everyone should stand for the national anthem” and “our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
Newt Gingrich, in an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” lambasted Goodell for his delayed response: “It only took Roger, what, two or three weeks of public humiliation to finally get the message?”
Gingrich referenced President Donald Trump’s fierce criticism of NFL players who are refusing to stand for or acknowledge the anthem. He criticized the league and team owners that have allowed their players to continue protesting and even cited that the organization is now the least respected professional or college sport.
“Trump has this unique ability to understand where the American people are and what the American people value,” Gingrich said. “And Trump wouldn’t let it go away. He said, ‘No, no, let’s have a fight over this.’ And the result was when the country paid attention, the country said, ‘Of course, you ought to respect the flag.'”
Below is the full text of Goodell’s memo which prompted Gingrich’s response:
“We live in a country that can feel very divided. Sports, and especially the NFL, brings people together and lets them set aside those divisions, at least for a few hours. The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.
“I’m very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their communities. At our September committee meetings, we heard directly from several players about why these issues are so important to them and how we can support their work. And last week, we met with the leadership of the NFLPA and more players to advance the dialogue.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. 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. We want to ensure that any work at the League level is consistent with the work that each club is doing in its own community, and that we dedicate a platform that can enable these initiatives to succeed. Additionally, we will continue the unprecedented dialogue with our players.
“I expect and look forward to a full and open discussion of these issues when we meet next week in New York. 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.”
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