The NFL National Anthem protest has not died, and neither has the boycott of the league by former professional football fans upset that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has allowed it to continue. While protesting players have insisted they’re only bringing awareness to racial injustice, many spectators of the sport don’t appreciate what clearly looks like a protest of the American flag, the U.S. military, and the country they represent.
But on Wednesday, speaking to a crowd at The Year Ahead Summit in New York, Goodell appeared to side with upset fans, saying, “In this case I've been very clear about this — the anthem, the respect for our flag is very important. So I want to see our players stand.”
According to SB Nation, Goodell then shifted back the protesting players’ side, adding, “I'm proud of our players for that and proud of our owners for listening, supporting them and trying to give them a platform in which to make improvements in our society, which we're all about and do that in a way and get beyond what we call ‘protest to progress.’”
If that’s not confusing, he then shifted back, acknowledging that “People come to our stadiums to be entertained and have fun, not to be protested to.”
And when asked by someone in the room what the NFL’s role should be in changing society, Goodell added, “I think you're getting into something, getting into politics is not something we do. Values aren't necessarily about politics. Values are the way you do things and I think we want to make sure we do things at the highest standards. And I think people expect us to.”
If you think it’s strange that he praised players for using their national platform to protest for societal change before seeming to side with fans for being upset at it and saying that the NFL doesn’t have a role in changing society, you’re not alone. But at least he’s giving the fans something to agree with now.
And giving them something seems crucial these days to the success of a sport that is no longer America’s most popular. This weekend, the “Sunday Night Football” show hit yet another new low this season during a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders, according to Variety. The Raiders beat the Dolphins 27 to 24.
What do you think of Goodell’s newest statement? In other sports news, the Houston Astros have responded to the question of whether or not they’ll visit the White House after their World Series victory.