Ross said that the NFL’s policy on the national anthem did not come up. That policy states that the players should stand for the anthem, and some have suggested the league would seek to change that to must stand. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo to the teams last week that the NFL prefers for players to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner.
Earlier, outside of the hotel where the owners are meeting, two dozen supporters of Black Lives Matter New York held a rally backing NFL players for speaking out, particularly former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem last year in protest of racial injustice in America. Demonstrations during the anthem increased when President Donald Trump called the players unpatriotic if they knelt during the anthem, with both players and league executives saying the meaning of the protests has been misconstrued by the president and his supporters. At a game earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium after several 49ers knelt during the anthem.
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Obviously it’s a different perspective, he said. I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to these issues, perspective and respect everyone’s right regardless of how they feel. Whether it is peacefully protesting or speaking on these issues, I think it’s important to respect everyone.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also called the session constructive.
We heard what they had to say and they heard us, Ross said.
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Sources familiar with the players’ thinking told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that they went into the meeting skeptical. The level of trust between owners and players has been low in recent years, as the sides have waged court battles over the personal conduct policy and the players have spurned the owners’ efforts to open negotiations on an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.