NFL players’ union to join owners’ meeting on national anthem protests

NFL players’ union to join owners’ meeting on national anthem protests
The NFL owners’ meeting which is set to take place next week in New York City will be attended by representatives from the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to discuss the ongoing national anthem protests.

The NFLPA and the league released a joint statement Wednesday, stressing that all the parties will be involved in the upcoming meeting, where the subject of the anthem protests will be discussed.

"Commissioner Roger Goodell reached out to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith today and both he and player leadership will attend the League meetings next week," the statement said.

"There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem. The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized. Everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these issues in a civil and constructive way."

The statement was made a day after NFL chief Goodell sent a letter to all 32 teams, regarding the anthem protests that have swept the league. Goodell stressed the league would appreciate if the players stand during the anthem, but added there was no indication of punishment for those who protest.

US President Donald Trump, who has been vocal about his views on the protests, again added his weight to the issue.

Trump told Fox News on Wednesday that no anthem issue would have arisen if the NFL had punished San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched the wave of protests last year.

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

"And then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming. And frankly, the NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again. They could have then suspended him for two games and they could have suspended him again if he did it a third time, for the season, and you would never have had a problem."

Earlier this week the Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, stated he will take action against players who disrespect the anthem. His decision to bench protesting players, however, faced public resistance. Local 100 United Labor Unions filed a labor complaint over his decision on Tuesday, stating it violates the National Labor Relations Act.

READ MORE: Labor union files complaint against NFL owner’s decision to punish protesting players

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who had earlier been one of the most ardent supporters of the protests, has also recently called on his players to stand for the national anthem.

"Trump has made [standing for anthem] about patriotism,” Ross said last Sunday.

“It's so important if that's what the country is looking at, to look at [the protest] differently.”

The three Miami football players who protested last week remained off the field when the anthem was played before their home game against the Titans on Sunday.