"Everyone should stand for the national anthem," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters at a press conference Wednesday after two days of owners' meetings in New York.
"We want our players to stand," Goodell said, because "it's an important part of our game."
Yet, the commissioner noted that in their discussions the owners did not ask players to stand for the anthem. They are instead trying to understand where the players are coming from.
"They are not doing this to be disrespectful to the flag," Goodell insisted.
Right now, he noted, they have six or seven players still protesting. They want to get that number to zero, but it is a "longterm issue" that they are addressing by first taking a look at the underlying problems.
Those underlying issues, Goodell found, were, for instance, the players' hopes for bail reform, criminal justice reform, and other changes they want to make "to make their communities better."
The owners and the players are "working together" on these social justice issues, he shared.
But, through it all, they're "trying to stay out of politics" and keep people focused on the football, the commissioner insisted.
President Trump weighed into the national anthem controversy last month, declaring during an Alabama campaign rally that NFL players who kneel during the anthem are "SOBs." That message angered players all across the country to the point that on one Sunday, over 150 players took a knee. However, following ratings meltdowns, rebukes from their coaches and boos from the mans, most players are now standing for the flag.
Goodell says he has not spoken to the president about the protests.