‘Everyone should stand for national anthem’ – NFL commissioner
"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell wrote in the statement.
“It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."
JUST IN: In letter to NFL owners, Roger Goodell says: "We believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem." pic.twitter.com/iveGOQgJnz— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 10, 2017
Although the commissioner did not specify if the league will make it mandatory for players to stand during the national anthem, as currently it only recommends them to do so, he mentioned that the issue will be discussed at a meeting next week.
"Building on many discussions with clubs and players, we have worked to develop a plan that we will review with you at next week's League meeting."
Goodell’s comments follow the recent actions and statements by high-level US officials, including President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence.
Last weekend, Pence was in attendance at the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers, but left the stadium after nearly 20 players knelt during the anthem.
"I left today's Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," said the vice president on Twitter.
“I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country,” tweeted Trump just an hour later.
A day later, Trump questioned the tax breaks that the NFL receives.
"Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!" Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
The national anthem protest movement was launched by the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last fall, who began to kneel during the anthem before his team's games, and later spread throughout the NFL and other sports leagues in the US.
The NFL is still seeing the largest protests, although last weekend J.T. Brown, a forward for Tampa Bay Lightning in the National Hockey League (NHL), became the first ice-hockey player to join the movement when he raised his fist during the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ before his team’s game against Florida Panthers.