NFL commissioner Roger Goodell restated the league's desire for its players to stand for the National Anthem but did not issue any mandate or threaten any discipline to those who have chosen to protest by kneeling.
"I think our clubs all see this the same way - we want our players to stand, we're going to encourage them to stand and we're going to continue to work on these issues in the community", Goodell told reporters after meeting with team owners at the Fall League Meeting in NY. Goodell and some owners also met separately with players.
Goodell had previously said that "everyone should stand" for the national anthem, amid growing pressure for the NFL to take an official stance on the controversial protests.
"What we're trying to do is stay out of politics", Goodell said. According to ABC, Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, a prominent voice in these protests, said, "very little of the meeting was about the actual anthem. They're trying to bring awareness to issues that come from their communities that most people that look like me don't understand".
Some fans have said they are heeding his calls to boycott games while the kneeling continues, which Trump has said is unpatriotic and an insult to the country's military veterans.
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The topic of the national anthem was not discussed at length.
San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York attempted to downplay President Jockstrap's attacks on players who kneel. "And they're actually incredibly knowledgeable, articulate and they spent the time going into the communities to talk about that", Goodell said.
The statement continued: "As we said last week, everyone who is part of our National Football League community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military". We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.
Trump has argued that the real issue is respect for the American flag.
More players have begun kneeling since Trump criticized the practice, and some sympathetic teammates have linked arms with the kneelers while standing themselves. Their commitment to addressing these issues is really admirable and something that I think our owners looked at as saying 'We want to help you support you.
Other players followed suit, and the movement spread after criticism from US President Donald Trump last month.