NFL owners will reportedly consider a rule change that would require players to stand during the national anthem, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The discussions around the rule happened on Tuesday, where NFL players met with owners.
For the players, Anquan Boldin, Darius Butler, Russell Okung, Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas, Mark Herzlich, Kelvin Beachum, Demario Davis, Eric Reid, and Josh Norman were representatives. From the NFL and NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, Eric Winston, Don Davis, Roger Goodell, and Troy Vincent represented, while Michael Bidwill, Arthur Blank, Terry Pegula, Robert McNair, Shad Khan, Stephen Ross, Robert Kraft, John Mara, Art Rooney, Jeffrey Lurie, and Jed York represented owners.
Colin Kaepernick, who began protesting during the national anthem during the 2016 preseason, was not invited to participate in the meeting. Other players wanted Kaepernick to participate, but the league and owners did not extend an invitation. Kaepernick “is open to future participation on these important discussions,” Geragos said in a statement obtained by SB Nation.
The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement after the discussion:
Last Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted his support of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:
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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
The NFL then released a statement, trying to separate themselves from Trump’s comments:
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 first-hand the outstanding work our players and clubs are doing to strengthen their communities. Players from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together.
Colin Kaepernick sat for the national anthem during the 2016 preseason, before converting his protest of police brutality and inequality people of color face in the United States into a kneel.
After Kaepernick’s protest was noticed, many players followed his lead, including others around the country in other sports and levels of sport.
Discussions around the national anthem were raised after President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who kneel while it is played. Trump said at a rally in Alabama that NFL owners who have players “disrespecting the flag” by kneeling should say “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired.”
It led to a Week 3 in the NFL that showed many different demonstrations, from kneeling, to linking arms, to not coming out for the anthem at all.
In Week 5, Vice President Mike Pence left the Colts’ game after 49ers players took a knee for the national anthem. Pence sent out a series of tweets before firing off a prepared statement in what appeared to be a planned PR stunt.
Later that afternoon, Jerry Jones told reporters that players who “disrespect the flag” wouldn’t be playing, echoing the sentiment that Trump delivered at his rally in Alabama.
Jerry Jones: "If there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period. We're going to respect the flag and I'm going to create the perception of it."— Brandon George (@DMN_George) October 9, 2017
Last Tuesday, Trump tweeted that tax laws should be changed so that the NFL doesn’t get “massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country.”
The NBA has a rule that forces players to stand for the national anthem. The league and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum reiterated the rule in a memo to teams and players recently. The rule reads:
2) Players, coaches, and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.
Tatum’s memo says teams could have players or coaches give a joint pregame address, or prepare a video tribute or PSA speaking about issues they care about, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
ESPN obtained a letter that Roger Goodell sent to teams last Tuesday saying that, like many fans, the league believes 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. 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.
Trump picked a battle with NFL players, but with owners who donated to his campaign, he might get what he wants if the rule is passed.