Roger Goodell has an important platform to make a change. When the commissioner of the NFL makes a statement, people in this country listen. Even if he is making a general commentary on the state of ticket sales for a struggling team, fans across the country will take notice and discuss the impact of his statement. Not all of this statements are serene and pleasant, mind you. Recently Goodell weighed in on the issue of players not respecting the national anthem when it plays before the start of a game.
African American football players have been boycotting the tradition to stand for the anthem, choosing instead to kneel or remain in the dressing room for the duration of the song. The reason for this combative action is to raise awareness for race issues in American. African American men, these players claim, are arrested by policemen in far greater numbers than white folks, and they believe a primary reason for this is their skin color.
Whatever the reasons given by some players to not stand for the anthem, the commissioner is having none of it. He issued a statement on October 10th that was unequivocal about the issue, according to news reported by the Washington Post.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” he said in a letter addressed to the NFL club presidents and chief executives.
He went on to add that “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor the flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
He was not going to limit his comments to just a bland commentary, though. He went on to state that he and the players who refused to stand would be meeting shortly in New York to discuss the issue at hand. Mr. Goodell was praised the President Donald Trump for these comments. The President has been vocal about his dislike of the upstart players disrespecting the flag with their selfish actions. After hearing about Mr. Goodell’s commentary on the issue, Trump tweeted “It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all his players STAND for our great National Anthem – RESPECT OUR COUNTRY.”
In the letter written to the NFL execs, Goodale goes on to give some context for this belief. “Everyone in the game needs to come together on a path forward to continue to be a force for good in 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 we will meet this challenge in a unified and positive way.”
The upstarts are primarily former San Francisco 49s Colin Kaepernick, who took to sitting for the national anthem in protest to police brutality, as mentioned above. Kaepernick then met with Seattle Seahawks player Nate Boyer who advised him to take a knee instead, reminiscent of what soldiers do at a soldiers grave.