Commissioner: NFL needs to 'move past' national anthem controversy

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It was originally interpreted as Goodell wanting players to stand for the anthem.

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a Indianapolis Colts-San Francisco 49ers game on Sunday after several 49ers took a knee during the anthem.

Although the commissioner did not specify if the league will make it mandatory for players to stand during the national anthem, as now it only recommends them to do so, he mentioned that the issue will be discussed at a meeting next week.

Before making those comments, Smith called the National Football League out for their weak response to Trump and said they need to address him directly because he successfully hijacked the issue from its players.

Questioned about Trump's apparent error on the NFL's tax status, she said: "The federal tax law doesn't apply here, but certainly we know that they receive tax subsidies on a variety of different levels".

The league, working with teams and players, has "worked to develop a plan" that it will present at a league meeting next week, Goodell said.

Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell

"We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues", reads Goodell's letter.

"We believe that everyone should stand" is a long way from "demanding" that players stand.

Donald Trump's distaste for athletes failing to stand for the U.S. anthem before games seems to have moved the National Football League to action. "We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players".

Trump intensified the debate over anthem protests last month when, during a freewheeling speech in Alabama, he said the league should fire players who kneel during the anthem. Pence said: "I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem".

"I watched Colin Kaepernick and I thought it was bad", Trump said.

In an interview on Fox News Channel's (FNC) Hannity airing Wednesday night, Trump said the National Football League could've avoided this issue by suspending Kaepernick. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the trend when he knelt during the national anthem previous year.

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