NFL clarifies Roger Goodell's statement on national anthem protests after Trump Twitter remarks

The NFL has released a statement attempting to clarify commissioner Roger Goodell's letter to all 32 of the league's teams concerning the continuing national anthem protests by some players. The response came after remarks made by President Trump on Twitter Wednesday claiming the NFL is "demanding" players now stand during the national anthem.

“Commentary this morning about the commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate.

“As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together.

"Commissioner Goodell spent yesterday with Miami Dolphins players, law enforcement and community leaders witnessing first-hand the outstanding work our players and clubs are doing to strengthen their communities. Players from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together," the NFL said.

In the letter, Goodell wrote that 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 also stated that the NFL believes "that everyone should stand for the National Anthem," and that "the controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues."

In a joint statement released by the NFL and NFL Players Association, both the league and union stated there have been no changes to the current policy regarding the national anthem:

"Commissioner Roger Goodell reached out to NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith today and both he and player leadership will attend the League meetings next week. There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem. The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized. Everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these issues in a civil and constructive way."

Goodell also addressed President Trump's latest remarks on Twitter about the NFL.

"What we've had is unprecedented dialogue over the last year with our players, our owners, with community leaders and law enforcement," Goodell said. "What we plan to do is have a very in-depth discussion with the players and owners next week to make sure we truly understand the issues and also understand the approach we want to take together with the players to address these issues in our communities."

Goodell also noted that "the real dialogue and the real issues have been overtaken by the controversy" surrounding the national anthem.

"What we want to do is get back to focusing on the actions that we want to take to really improve our communities and support our players to get things done. We want to get to from our current situation to where we are really making a difference in the community and get involved in action that is going to have a positive outcome for our law enforcement, for our communities, and for our country overall.

"We need more understanding and that's what has happened for us over the last year with our players going into their communities and doing the listen and learning tours, going to ride-alongs, listening to community leaders, going to bail proceedings, and seeing what the players have focused on is what they want to try to improve in their communities. By sharing that with our owners, our owners support that effort. They understand this is important to our players and they want to help them make a difference. That is what's so unique about this -- our owners and players coming together to help use the platform to make great changes in our community. The bottom line is, we all agree we want to make our communities better.

"I do think there's a sense of urgency because we want to get in the communities and make a positive impact. It's important for us to continue to work together. The urgency that we all feel is continuing the work that we are doing, keeping focused and having a positive outcome for our players, our communities, our teams, our fans and for the leaders in our communities. I believe that urgency is actually beneficial -- but this isn't something that started two weeks ago, this is something that we have been focused on for well over a year. It requires patience and a deeper understanding than we have on a lot of these issues. I know our fans are focused on football, as they should be. We want to get that focus on football. We want to support our players, support our communities, and help make them better," Goodell said.

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