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NFL may adopt rule to require players to stand for national anthem

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The NFL may try to solve a problem it’s facing by forcing players to stand for the national anthem.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

NFL players making varying types of protests during the national anthem has been prevalent throughout the 2017 season.

It spread like wildfire after President Donald Trump made a bold statement against NFL players who have protested during the national anthem, telling his followers to boycott the NFL.

But those comments have only made NFL players rally harder behind this movement. The Cincinnati Bengals were one of many teams to make a statement during the national anthem, which came in Week 3 ahead of their matchup with the Green Bay Packers, where players linked arms during the national anthem as a sign of unity. The Bengals were not necessarily protesting, but showing unity after President Trump’s remarks on the NFL upset many players.

Many other teams have had players take a knee or even sit down during the anthem, something the NFL no long wants to see. According to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter, the league is considering a rule that would force players to stand for the anthem.

The NFL has its fall owners’ meeting next week, and this will be among the topics of discussion. In the lead up to that meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell even sent out a letter to owners of all 32 NFL teams regarding these discussions. Goodell’s letter was obtained by Schefter:

We live in a country that can feel very divided. 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.

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. At our September committee meetings, we heard directly from several players about why these issues are so important to them and how we can support their work. And last week, we met with the leadership of the NFLPA and more players to advance the dialogue.

Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. 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. 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. Additionally, we will continue the unprecedented dialogue with our players.

I expect and look forward to a full and open discussion of these issues when we meet next week in New York. 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.

“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,” Goodell wrote. “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.”

It’s unclear if that rule would prevent players from linking arms like the Bengals did. This news also comes after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said this weekend that he would consider benching any player who took a knee during the national anthem.

Protesting during the national anthem is a movement started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 preseason. It’s become more and more common since then, so much that most NFL teams have now taken part in it to some degree.

I’m not going to pretend I know the best way to remedy this issue, but forcing players to stand for the anthem doesn’t feel like the best method.