- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that players, coaches and owners should stand for the national anthem.

“That’s an important part of our policy. It’s also an important part of our game, that we all take great pride in. And it’s also important for us to honor our flag, and to our country, and we think our fans expect us to do that,” Mr. Goodell said at a press conference in New York.

But Goodell said the league had not changed its rules to require players to stand.

Changing the league’s language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed, he said, nor was the prospect that some owners have threatened to punish players who kneel during the anthem.

The NFL commissioner called this a “long-term issue” and said the league wants to address the underlying issues causing the protests. The NFL has come under fire after players started taking a knee during “The Star Spangled Banner” played at the start of NFL games.

After President Trump criticized former player Colin Kaepernick last month — who started the protests last season to highlight police brutality against minorities — owners, coaches and players all kneeled or locked arms in solidarity. The action taken was seen as a protest of Mr. Trump’s comments, but the issue has continued to cause problems for the NFL.

“We respect our country. We respect our flag. We respect our national anthem,” Mr. Goodell said. “I think you look at our clubs and what they do on a daily basis. You look at our players and what they do and how they participate in that. We all feel very strongly about our country, and our pride, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

“The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!” Mr. Trump tweeted early Wednesday.

The NFL met with owners, coaches and players after ratings have been on a steady decline since the protests began.

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