Goodell Can’t Decide Where He Stands on NFL Kneelers
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared to contradict himself when he said that all players “should stand for the national anthem” to “honor our flag and our country” while insisting that protesting players aren’t acting “in any way to be disrespectful to the flag” at a press conference Wednesday.
After taking part in the second day of meetings between NFL owners and players, Goodell had a hard time taking a definitive stance about the ongoing national controversy that has sullied the sport and angered its fans. Although the NFL commissioner said it is important for the players to avoid protesting by kneeling while the national anthem is being played before their games, he refused to enforce his league’s own policy of standing contained in its manual by making it an official rule.
"We believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. That's an important part of our policy," Goodell told reporters. "It is also an important part of our game that we all take great pride in, and it is also important for us to honor our flag and our country. And we think our fans expect us to do that."
Even though Goodell said honoring and standing for the national anthem is something the NFL takes "pride" in, he also defended the protesting players’ decision to use NFL games as a platform to protest during the anthem.
"[The players] will state to you, and they have stated to everyone publicly, they are not doing this in any way to be disrespectful to the flag, but they also understand how it is being interpreted," Goodell said of the protesters.
Goodell also appeared to forget that the protest’s founder, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, told NFL Media back in 2016 that he was "not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
Although Goodell said the NFL owners "feel the same way" as angry NFL fans do "about this issue" and about "the importance of the flag" and "of patriotism," the NFL commissioner didn’t think it important enough to institute an official rule.