NFL clarifies that rule change about protests not yet decided

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As their ratings continue to decline, the NFL said Tuesday that it will begin discussions about a change in rules, which would require players to stand for the national anthem.

On Wednesday, the league confirmed that it’s trying to “move from protest to progress,” but said reports that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will institute a rule about standing are inaccurate at this time.

On Tuesday, Goodell sent a letter to the league’s owners, confirming that a rule change would be discussed, and that a vote on the issue would be considered as early as next week.

A vote for the rule change would put an end to the practice of staging protests against the United States during the playing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

On Wednesday morning, President Donald J. Trump went on Twitter, posting a comment about the rule. In his tweet, he wrote: “It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY.”

The president’s tweet seemed to indicate the rule change had already been made. The NFL issued a statement shortly after President Trump’s tweet.

“Commentary this morning about the commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate,” the statement from the league reads. “As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week.”

Saying they hope to do something more substantial for communities rather than protesting on the sidelines, the NFL’s statement claims they are working on moving forward toward progress. (The full statement is available below.)

On Tuesday, Goodell’s issuance included the announcement that a “plan” would be proposed to teams.

“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 wrote.

Some of Goodell’s comments seemed to indicate a change in the rules was likely to take place.

“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem,” he 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.”

The NFL’s full statement:

“Commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the anthem is not accurate. As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together. Commissioner Goodell spent yesterday with Miami Dolphins players, law-enforcement and community leaders witnessing firsthand the outstanding work for players in clubs are doing to strengthen their communities. Players from all around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together.”

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