Fourteen players and 11 owners met this morning at NFL HQ in N.Y. to discuss a way forward in the anthem-related controversy that has engulfed the league in recent weeks. Owners were scheduled to travel to lower Manhattan later in the day for the start of their owners’ meeting. Player attendees included some of the more outspoken players on the issue of using the anthem period to protest, including 49ers S Eric Reid and Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins. Others included former NFLer Anquan Boldin, Colts S Darius Butler, Chargers OT Russell Okung, Dolphins WR Kenny Stills, TE Julius Thomas and S Michael Thomas, Giants LB Mark Herzlich, Jets OT Kelvin Beachum, Jets LB Demario Davis, Eagles DE Chris Long and Redskins CB Josh Norman. NFLPA officials in the meeting included Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, player President Eric Winston and Senior Dir of Player Affairs Don Davis. Owners in the meeting were the Cardinals' Michael Bidwill, Falcons' Arthur Blank, Bills' Terry Pegula, Texans' Bob McNair, Jaguars' Shahid Khan, Dolphins' Stephen Ross, Patriots' Robert Kraft, Giants' John Mara, Steelers' Art Rooney, Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie and 49ers' Jed York. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Troy Vincent also attended. The league is expected to offer support to players for their social justice efforts. The big question is whether any agreement would include a concession by players that they must stand for the anthem (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).
ANTHEM LIKELY AN ISSUE AT MEETINGS: ESPN's Chris Mortensen cited some NFL owners who said that it would "be a surprise" if a mandate comes from the league at the owners' meeting that "all players must stand for the anthem.” There are "hawk owners who are going into this saying that they want a mandate." But there are others who "don't want a mandate." ESPN's Jim Trotter said there are a number of owners who "do not share the same vision or belief" as the Cowboys' Jerry Jones on this issue. It could get "really messy in those rooms in terms of these owners going back and forth on this issue because there are a number of owners who ... don't want it to appear that the employees are telling the employer how to run his business." That is a "major issue with these men who are used to defining what the work terms are” ("OTL," ESPN, 10/16). NFL.com's Judy Battista wrote NFL owners "feel the league simply can't continue with the current situation, because it is angering too many people." Several are upset with Jones for "taking a very public hardline stand that he would bench any player who does not stand for the anthem." Other owners have "advocated that the anthem should be played while teams are still in the locker room." And still others "worry about capitulating to the president's demands at all" (NFL.com, 10/16).
Walker believes players are showing disrespect for the flag and veterans
READING BETWEEN THE LINES: The NATIONAL REVIEW's Rich Lowry wrote Trump "isn't exactly on a winning streak, but he is beating the NFL in a rout." After Trump got involved, the polling on protests "showed the public more evenly divided." This "doesn't have equal significance: If you're Donald Trump and at 40 percent or below in the polls, a 50/50 issue works for you; if you are the NFL and trying to appeal to a broad audience, a 50/50 issue is a disaster for you." The NFL "misunderstood its own nature." It is "not just that it is a game that should be a respite from political and social contention; as a quasi-national festival, it should be identified with a certain baseline of patriotism" (NATIONALREVIEW.com, 10/13).