NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to all 32 NFL teams Tuesday regarding the controversy over some players protesting by “taking a knee” or refusing to stand during the national anthem before games. Goodell said the dispute over the protest “is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.”
"I'm very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their communities,” he added.
"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game,” he said. “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.”
"Building on many discussions with clubs and players, we have worked to develop a plan that we will review with you at next week's League meeting,” Goodell announced. “This 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. We want to ensure that any work at the League level is consistent with the work that each club is doing in its own community, and that we dedicate a platform that can enable these initiatives to succeed."
"I expect and look forward to a full and open discussion of these issues when we meet next week in New York,” he concluded. “Everyone involved in the game needs to come together on a path forward to continue to be a force for good within our communities, protect the game, and preserve our relationship with fans throughout the country. The NFL is at its best when we ourselves are unified. In that spirit, let's resolve that next week we will meet this challenge in a unified and positive way."
Refusing to stand during the Anthem is not a popular form of protest among many of the NFL's viewers. A recent study found that 34 percent of Americans are less likely to watch NFL games due to the protests.
Another recent poll shows that NFL ratings have taken a nosedive since the anthem protests began.