In the wake of a huge controversy that has rocked the NFL and fans of football, the commissioner of the National Football League has said all players should stand for the national anthem, and that the NFL has a plan in order to move forward in a positive way, uniting the League and fans again.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo to all 32 NFL team owners that was released on Tuesday. “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
After all the divisiveness, Goodell said, it is important to unite and move forward, and the NFL has developed a plan to do so.
The plan “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 said. The NFL has regularly scheduled meetings this month, and it is likely that details of the League’s plan to move forward would be released during that time.
“We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues,” he continued. “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 we want to do that together with our players.”
This memo comes after weeks of football games where hundreds of players have taken a knee or sat down in protest during the national anthem.
This was started by football player Colin Kaepernick last year to protest what he believes to be problems in America, namely police brutality and black inequality. Kaepernick was not signed by a professional football team this year.
The protests took on a whole new meaning after President Donald Trump said players should stand during the anthem or be “fired.”
Trump called on players to stand and show respect to the anthem and flag. Otherwise, if any player kneeled during the national anthem, then that team’s owner should “fire that son of a b–ch.”
Trump had also tweeted: “Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected.”
He also had tweeted: “The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can’t kneel during our national anthem.”
The NFL Players Association has come out and said that they players are within their rights to do so, per the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
“We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports,” NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith had tweeted.
Goodell had previously said:
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these [from President Trump] demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
This is the full text of Goodell’s memo released Tuesday:
“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 issue. 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 we want to do that together with our players.
Building on many discussion 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 united. In that spirit, let’s resolve that next week we will meet this challenge in a unified and positive way.”