While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says all players “should stand” during the national anthem, the league will not force anyone to do so.
Goodell told media outlets that making athletes stand was not discussed with team owners at Wednesday’s fall meetings in New York. Still, the commissioner believes standing is the right thing to do.
“That’s an important part of our policy,” Goodell said. “It’s also an important part of our game that we all take great pride in. And it’s also important for us to honor our flag and our country and we think our fans expect us to do that.”
Hearing that the NFL won’t make standing during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” mandatory did not sit well with President Donald Trump, who says the act of sitting or kneeling during the anthem is “Total disrespect for our great country!” and has suggested that those players lose their jobs.
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Goodell dismissed any talk of the league not being patriotic.
“Everyone feels strongly about our country ...,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”
Several players have knelt or sat during the anthem to draw attention to social injustice in America. It began with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in August 2016, who originally sat during “The Star-Spangled Banner” but changed it to a kneel after talking with an Army Green Beret.
Kaepernick was joined by many players in the protests, which have been taken up by athletes in other sports.
Here’s some reaction across social media: