Debate returns to spotlight
Carolina Panthers v Philadelphia Eagles
Tonight brings a clash between two of the NFL’s in-form teams, but the anthem debate threatens to overshadow the spectacle after commissioner Roger Goodell appeared to put pressure on owners to stamp out player protests.
Carolina and Philadelphia both head into week six with a 4-1 record thanks to two stout defences and the respective quarterbacking of Cam Newton and Carson Wentz.
But all eyes will once again be drawn to who kneels during the pre-game national anthem after Goodell asked teams to ‘move past’ the issue that has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem,” Goodell wrote in a memo to all 32 teams earlier this week.
“We want to honour 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.
“We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
However, a league spokesman said that the NFL has no plans to rule that players must stand during the anthem, insisting claims to the contrary are ‘inaccurate’.
Ahead of kick-off (04:25+1) the Eagles are sweating on the fitness of defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and running back Wendell Smallwood, who both missed last week’s win versus Arizona.
Carolina’s No1: Cam Newton.