NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has finally made a move to end the National Anthem protest controversy, by sending a letter to team owners saying it was time to “move past” the controversy, and “everyone should stand for the national anthem.”
Goodell’s words are a far cry from his initial approach to the controversy, when he gave soft support for the player protests, by saying they had a right to voice their opinion on racism and equality, even during the anthem.
The commissioner’s letter won’t end the protests in a technical sense, but it is signaling a move by the league to ban the protests outright. The statement, essentially, announces the formal end to the protests is coming.
Goodell’s initial attempt to cater to the players backfired, as public support swung against the NFL. Many blamed Roger Goodell for allowing the protests to spread, after President Trump criticized the players for dishonoring the country.
The backlash from fans was heavy, and a severe drop in ratings and support, as well as a call to boycott games and advertisers, forced owners to rethink the issue.
Goodell’s letter to owners, obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, sought to end the controversy by banning national anthem protests and focusing on other means of social activism.
While current rules only suggest players show respect during the anthem, the proposed new rule would require it.
The controversy started last year, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the anthem, saying he could not honor a country who allowed racism and violence against people of color to fester. The protests hit a crescendo earlier this season when hundreds of players took a knee during the anthem in a protest of President Trump.