NFL wants play­ers to stand dur­ing US an­them: Good­ell

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK: The Na­tional Foot­ball League said Tues­day it wanted play­ers to stand dur­ing the US an­them as it at­tempts to quell the con­tro­versy which has dogged the sport since the open­ing weeks of the sea­son. NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell sent a memo to teams re­it­er­at­ing the league’s pref­er­ence for play­ers to stand for ren­di­tions of The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner. “Like many of our fans, we be­lieve that ev­ery­one should stand for the na­tional an­them. It is an im­por­tant mo­ment in our game,” Good­ell wrote. “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.”

Ex­ist­ing NFL pol­icy says play­ers “should” stand for the an­them but does not ex­plic­itly make it manda­tory. Good­ell also wrote in the memo that the NFL had de­vel­oped a plan to deal with the is­sue which would be re­viewed at next week’s league meet­ing in New York.

The NFL has been at the cen­tre of a rum­bling con­tro­versy since US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­scribed play­ers who kneeled for the an­them to protest racial in­equal­ity as “sons of bitches” who should be fired. The NFL ini­tially united in op­po­si­tion to Trump’s re­marks, with a large-scale protest by play­ers as well as con­dem­na­tion from team own­ers and Good­ell him­self.

How­ever although the protests have re­duced in size in re­cent weeks, the con­tro­versy has re­fused to die down and was given a fresh jolt of mo­men­tum on Sun­day when vice pres­i­dent Mike Pence walked out of a game after sev­eral San Fran­cisco 49ers play­ers kneeled dur­ing the an­them ahead of their game with the In­di­anapo­lis Colts.

“I left to­day’s Colts game be­cause @POTUS and I will not dig­nify any event that dis­re­spects our sol­diers, our Flag, or our Na­tional An­them,” Pence wrote on Twit­ter on Sun­day. His walk­out was sub­se­quently crit­i­cised as a care­fully-chore­ographed public­ity stunt.

Also on Sun­day, Dal­las Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones said any player kneel­ing dur­ing the an­them would be benched. “I’m very sup­port­ive of the team, but un­der no cir­cum­stances will the Dal­las Cow­boys-I don’t care what hap­pens-un­der no cir­cum­stances will we as an or­ga­ni­za­tion, coaches, play­ers, not sup­port and stand and rec­og­nize and honor the flag. Pe­riod,” Jones said.

Trump mean­while took to Twit­ter once more on Mon­day to ap­plaud the Cow­boys’ owner’s po­si­tion. “A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dal­las Cow­boys, who will BENCH play­ers who dis­re­spect our Flag,” Trump wrote.

“Stand for An­them or sit for game!”

For­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick be­gan the protests in 2016 fol­low­ing the deaths of sev­eral African-Amer­i­can men dur­ing con­fronta­tions with po­lice. — AFP

Roger Good­ell

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