- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

NFL owners will discuss next week whether they should mandate players stand for the national anthem, according to multiple reports.

On a conference call with reporters, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said Tuesday that he expects any potential policy changes regarding the anthem to be “front and center” during next week’s fall meetings in New York. 

“They will have a chance, all of them, to discuss this issue, to look at the policy and look at ideas if there is a need to change the policies,” Lockhartsaid.

In a letter to owners, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league needs  “to move past this controversy,” adding they should do so with the players. 

“We live in a country that can feel very divided,” Goodell wrote. “Sports, and especially the NFL, brings people together and lets them set aside those divisions, at least for a few hours. The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.”

Two teams — the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins — have said players are required to stand during the national anthem.

On Sunday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said players would be benched if they did not comply. The Dolphins, meanwhile, gave players the option to stay in the locker room or tunnel if they did not want to be on the sidelines during the anthem. 

Lockhart maintained the current policy — which says players “should” stand for the anthem — has not changed. The NFL has not fined players for taking a knee during the anthem. 

But Lockhart acknowledged that “everyone” is frustrated regarding the dialogue around the anthem.

He said owners feel like players should stand while players are frustrated because they’re trying to raise awareness about police brutality. He added fans were upset because football “is traditionally a unifying event, a unifying thing for people.”

I think there’s a strong feeling across the league from every level that we ought to get back to football,” Lockhart said. 

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