The NFL is considering a rule change that would require players to stand for the national anthem, and end the practice of staging protests against the United States during the playing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to the league’s owners, confirming that a rule change would be discussed with a vote as early as next week, according to reports.
Goodell reportedly wrote that he and the NFL think that all players 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,” Goodell wrote.
Goodell said that in a country where there can be division, sports should be a unifying event.
“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,” Goodell wrote.
Goodell went on to note that the NFL also respects the opinions of players who’ve knelt, sat or raised a fist in protest.
“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,” Goodell wrote. “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.”
Goodell plans to continue conversing with players about the “anthem issue” and said he hoped the NFL and owners could have a “full and open discussion” during next week’s meeting.
The protests began last season when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew attention by sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, in protest of the flag and the country it represents, which he said discriminates against minorities and allows police officers to kill black men. Now a free-agent, Kaepernick, has not yet been signed by a team this season, and contention over that has led to additional protests.
President Trump sent out a tweet on Tuesday, ahead of Goodell’s letter, that suggested the NFL shouldn’t be getting tax breaks while its employees are regularly “disrespecting” the country.
“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” President Trump tweeted.
Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
The president has also called on NFL owners to discipline or fire players who don’t stand for the anthem.
On Sunday, Vice President Pence also spoke out against the practice of kneeling. He walked out of a game between the Indianapolis Colts (his home-state team) and the San Francisco 49ers when several 49ers took a knee during the national anthem.
“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” he stated.
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