After protests during the national anthem hit an all-time high two weeks ago, there have been relatively few demonstrations made by players prior to games over the past two weeks. The 49ers, as they have done all season, continue to have players kneeling as they continue to try and push forward the message of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick calling for an end to police brutality and racial inequality.
In general, protests are not nearly as widespread and many have chosen to move on to different forms of calls to action. However, the debate over the protests rages on, with Jerry Jones threatening to bench any players that kneel or protest during the anthem, and vice president Mike Pence’s walk out in Indianapolis this weekend.
The NFL has no idea how to approach the issue and has struggled with it ever since Kaepernick first began kneeling. The league has found itself criticized for a lack of support to those players and a lack of discipline to those players, and they are apparently siding with the latter, per the latest reports.
The first report came from Dow Jones, which stated owners will consider the rule change next week during a league meeting.
The owners of the NFL are reportedly considering a rule change that would make it mandatory for players to stand during the national anthem.
A league spokesman said that the owners would discuss the potential change during a meeting next week, Dow Jones reported.
The NFL will likely point to the NBA, which has had a similar rule in place for years, as part of the justification for the rule change, but that won’t stop the inevitable backlash that will come their way if such a rule is adopted.
Adam Schefter released the full transcript of the letter sent by Goodell to owners regarding the potential rule change on Facebook.
To: Chief Executives/ Club Presidents
From: Commissioner Goodell
Date: October 10, 2017
Re: Fall Meeting/National Anthem
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 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. 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 unified. In that spirit, let’s resolve that next week we will meet this challenge in a unified and positive way.