The 2017 NFL season has been in the midst of a major controversy regarding hundreds of professional football players protesting during the national anthem. Although the protesting began with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 as a way to protest police brutality and racial inequality, the kneeling has become another anti-Trump movement.
After President Trump suggested that all players who kneel during the anthem should be fired with a controversial statement—in agreement with many other Americans, the number of participants to take a knee during the “Star Spangled Banner” drastically increased. Since then, the nation has been divided on whether this is an appropriate time to exercise their First Amendment rights, since it appears as a “disrespectful” gesture to our flag and our country.
Recently, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, spoke out about the players' form of protesting. Ultimately, Goodell believes that “everyone should stand for the national anthem” and hopes to determine a solution—proud Americans felt a small form of victory, including President Donald Trump. However, the football organization later announced that Goodell’s statement did not mean that players will be forced to stand, making it very confusing to follow where the organization stands in this mess.
Following Goodell’s remarks, the NFL and NFL Players Association met on Tuesday, October 17th. Although they did not announce an official solution, the NFL confirmed that as of right now, their policy has not changed.
President Trump responded to the NFL’s decision on Wednesday, October 18th, shaming their refusal to change their policy and calling it a “total disrespect for our great country.” Hours later, Goodell held a press conference, where he further discussed the national anthem controversy.
Goodell first touched on the recent news of the 2018 NFL draft being held in Dallas, Texas. In addition, he commented on the “productive meetings” that have taken place the last few days and mentioned the national anthem controversy briefly.
Goodell confirmed his original opinion, “Everyone should stand for the national anthem—it’s an important part of our policy...we think our fans expect us to do that.”
Reporters were later given the opportunity to ask questions, which of course, revolved around the controversial movement. Goodell was asked about the president’s remarks, details of the exclusive meetings, etc. However, he dodged questions about whether owners would be punished if they decided to take action against protesting players.
Goodell did tell reporters, “We’re going to continue to encourage them to stand” and “hope to get the [players protesting] back to zero.” In a nutshell, Goodell stood firm on the fact that they are “trying to do the right thing” and reach common ground between the players and the executives regarding this issue.
Additionally, he revealed that he hopes to get back to just football, “We’re trying to stay out of politics—we’re not looking to get into politics.” He also confirmed to one reporter in a short answer that he has had no contact with the president.
Fans were outraged by his wishy-washy comments. With this issue being so important to football fans, especially conservatives, many agree that Goodell needs to pick a side and enforce something.
President Trump weighed in on the newest development late Wednesday afternoon:
Watch a clip from the press conference below.
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