NFL dis­putes Trump over its ‘de­mand’

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT -

THE Na­tional Foot­ball League dis­puted the ac­cu­racy of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Twit­ter post­ing on Wed­nes­day claim­ing league Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell was “fi­nally de­mand­ing” play­ers stand for the na­tional an­them.

Trump’s tweet came a day af­ter Good­ell said in a memo to all 32 NFL teams that the league be­lieves ev­ery­one “should” stand for the tra­di­tional pregame play­ing of The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner.

“It is about time that Roger Good­ell of the NFL is fi­nally de­mand­ing that all play­ers STAND for our great Na­tional An­them-RE­SPECT OUR COUN­TRY,” Trump tweeted.

Trump reignited the is­sue last month by say­ing play­ers who re­fused to stand for the tra­di­tional pregame an­them should be fired and call­ing any such player a “son of a bitch”.

The move by Trump, who had been re­luc­tant to con­demn white supremacy groups fol­low­ing a deadly rally in Char­lottesville last month, did not sit well with NFL play­ers, most of whom are African Amer­i­can. Many more have kneeled in re­cent weeks than had done be­fore, while oth­ers locked arms in a show of unity, at times with team own­ers.

On Tues­day, Good­ell at­tempted to end the con­tro­versy but stopped short of or­der­ing or de­mand­ing play­ers sta nd.

“Com­men­tary this morn­ing about the com­mis­sioner’s po­si­tion on the an­them is not ac­cu­rate,” the NFL said in a state­ment. “As we said yes­ter­day, there will be a dis­cus­sion of th­ese is­sues at the own­ers meet­ing next week. The NFL is do­ing the hard work of try­ing to move from protest to progress, work­ing to bring peo­ple to­gether.

“Com­mis­sioner Good­ell spent yes­ter­day with Mi­ami Dol­phins play­ers, law en­force­ment and com­mu­nity lead­ers wit­ness­ing first-hand the out­stand­ing work our play­ers and clubs are do­ing to strengthen their com­mu­ni­ties. Play­ers from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with own­ers to con­tinue our work to­gether.”

The kneel protest move­ment be­gan last year when Colin Kaeper­nick, then a quar­ter­back for the San Fran­cisco 49ers but now un­signed by any NFL club, said it was aimed at rais­ing aware­ness of po­lice bru­tal­ity, so­cial in­jus­tice and racial in­equal­ity is­sues in the wake of sev­eral po­lice shoot­ings across the United States of African-Amer­i­can men.

Flag stance talk next week

Trump has char­ac­terised the an­them kneel­ing as un­pa­tri­otic, an in­sult to the Amer­i­can flag and to sol­diers who fought for the free­dom it rep­re­sents, in­clud­ing the free speech right to protest be­ing used by play­ers.

Good­ell hoped to calm mat­ters in his memo: “Like many of our fans, we be­lieve that ev­ery­one should stand for the na­tional an­them.

“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.”

League own­ers meet next week in New York and the is­sue should be a ma­jor part of their agenda.

Good­ell said he wants a plan that “would in­clude such el­e­ments as an in-sea­son plat­form to pro­mote the work of our play­ers on th­ese core is­sues, and that will help to pro­mote pos­i­tive change in our coun­try”.

To that end, he has in­vited NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor DeMau­rice Smith and play­ers union lead­ers and they will also at­tend the meet­ings, ac­cord­ing to a union state­ment say­ing Good­ell reached out on Wed­nes­day to Smith.

“There has been no change in the cur­rent pol­icy re­gard­ing the an­them,” the NFLPA state­ment said. “The agenda will be a con­tin­u­a­tion of how to make progress on the im­por­tant so­cial is­sues that play­ers have vo­calised.

“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.”

SEAN M HAFFEY/GETTY IM­AGES/AFP

NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell walks the side­line prior to a game between the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers and the Philadel­phia Ea­gles at StubHub Cen­ter in Cal­i­for­nia on Oc­to­ber 1.

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