The National Football League (NFL) will not require players to stand for the national anthem, in contrast to earlier remarks made by Commissioner Roger Goodell that players “should” be required to stand for the song.
As the New York Post reports, Goodell and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice F. Smith issued a joint statement on Wednesday, indicating the league’s stance on the issue moving forward.
“There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem.”
The NFL’s current policy does not require players to stand for the anthem. With no change to the policy, players will continue to be allowed to stand, kneel, sit, or even remain in the locker room for the anthem, should they so choose.
The statement stands in sharp contrast to remarks made by Goodell a day earlier, when he wrote a memo to all 32 NFL teams, indicating that players “should” stand for the anthem, as NPR reported at the time.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem…. We want to honor our flag and our country and our fans expect that of us.”
However, with no changes to the NFL’s existing policy on the national anthem, it appears as if Goodell’s thoughts on the issue will remain just that – his personal opinions, and not an official directive.
Speaking to NFL.com reporter Nate Burleson, Goodell said that NFL officials intend to meet with players in the coming weeks to discuss the issues that led players to take a knee to begin with.
“We want to get to from our current situation to where we are really making a difference in the community and get involved in action that is going to have a positive outcome for our law enforcement, for our communities, and for our country overall.”
The national anthem controversy began during the preseason in 2016 when San Francisco 49ers then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick was spotted kneeling down on one knee rather than standing during the national anthem. When asked about it, Kaepernick said he was doing so as a protest against police brutality and the treatment of blacks in society.
The backlash was immediate and severe, to the point where Colin became a persona non grata in the NFL. Kaepernick was a free agent during the 2016-2017 season, and no team hired him. He remains without a contract to this day.
Meanwhile, the entire concept of kneeling/sitting during the national anthem has become something of a culture war, with heated rhetoric being used on both sides. President Donald Trump, for example, proclaimed that NFL owners should fire “any son of a b***h” who doesn’t stand for the anthem.
Similarly, as national anthem protests spread to other professional sports and to college and youth sports, several ugly incidents over the controversy have made the news. For example, as HuffPost reported at the time, an Alabama high school football announcer told the crowd that anyone who didn’t stand for the national anthem was free to line up at a nearby fence to be shot. And as the Inquisitr reported this week, a Louisiana high school football referee allegedly called a player a “n****r” after he took a knee during the anthem.
Do you believe the NFL should require players to stand for the national anthem? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images]