NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell has finally taken a stand against players kneeling during the national anthem. Goodell sent a letter to all 32 team owners making it clear that he expects all players to stand for the anthem. This move comes after a growing number of high-profile players have refused to stand for the anthem in protest of racial inequality.
In the letter obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Goodell insisted that players stand. “Like many of our fans,” Goodell wrote in part, “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 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.”
It’s important to note that the commissioner did not disclose how he plans to enforce this or what might happen to players – or team owners – who refuse to comply.
This will likely be discussed at the next owners’ meeting on Oct. 17, according to ABC News.
Goodell’s motives could be twofold. Viewership has diminished severely since players kneeling became the focal point; most fans just want to watch the game without any of the drama. In turn, money from advertisements is possibly dwindling and advertisers can’t be happy with that.
Currently, the NFL has a policy that states players have to be on the sideline during the national anthem, but it does not specify that players must stand, according to the New York Post.
Last year, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to protest racial inequality in America. This year, the controversial topic has garnered national attention once more as the president criticized the NFL and their players for allowing this behavior to continue.
Last Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game at the request of the president due to players kneeling during the anthem.