NFL: Report of Goodell demanding players stand for anthem inaccurate

On Wednesday the NFL released a statement attempting to clarify the commission’s letter about ban players from standing during the national anthem.

“Commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate,” said the NFL statement, which was released to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “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.”

Goodell sent a letter on Tuesday to all 32 league owners regarding the protests that have taken place during the national anthem, according to Schefter.

In the letter, Goodell wrote that 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.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) and President Donald Trump. | AP photos

“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell wrote in a letter Schefter shared on Facebook. “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.”

An earlier report said that NFL owners were already considering to make a rule change that would ban players from kneeling during the national anthem.

A league spokesperson told Dow Jones on Tuesday that team owners planned to discuss a rule that would force players to stand during the national anthem next week at their owners meeting in New York.

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been open about having his players stand during the anthem. Over the weekend, Jones said that if any of the players on his team kneel during the national anthem and “disrespect the flag,” they would face consequences and be benched.

The demand that his players stands comes two weeks after Jones linked arms with the team and took a knee at the middle of the field before a Cowboys game.

The NFL has been under fire as of late — most notably by President Donald Trump — for allowing its players to participate in anthem protests.

Trump criticized the league in August for allowing players to express their freedom of speech during the “Star Spangled Banner.” He called on NFL owners to fire players for protesting during the national anthem, which Trump said he believes is disrespectful toward the flag and military victims. Some of the players responded to Trump’s criticism saying that their protest isn’t meant to be a sign of disrespect.

All of the NFL protests have been quiet gestures stemming from free-agent Colin Kaepernick’s protest last season. The former 49ers quarterback took a knee to protest against police violence, specifically against African-Americans and people of color.

Earlier 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 NFL dropped its tax-exempt status in 2015. By doing this, the NFL’s head office pay now taxes on its income, but it doesn’t have to file yearly tax forms that publicly disclose details like executive pay, including for commissioner Roger Goodell, who made $34 million in 2014, according to CNN.