If the NFL passes the rule and players actually leave the league as a result, the national attention - good and bad - will only continue to shine on an issue that the league is desperately trying to move away from. The memo was not announcing a policy change, it was simply Goodell's stance on the controversy: "As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week".
The Tennessee Titans' wide receiver tweeted he will be "done playing football" if the NFL makes a rule change, forcing players to stand during the national anthem.
As a private league and business, that is, of course, the NFL's prerogative. Goodell stressed the league would appreciate if the players stand during the anthem, but added there was no indication of punishment for those who protest.
Trump has repeatedly criticized players and teams who kneel during the anthem to protest, saying that any players who refused to stand should be fired.
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Trump told Fox News on Wednesday that no anthem issue would have arisen if the National Football League had punished San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched the wave of protests a year ago.
"And then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming". Owners will meet in NY next week with representatives from the players' union to discuss the national anthem controversy. His decision to bench protesting players, however, faced public resistance.
The wide receiver was originally responding to reports of the NFL making it mandatory to stand for the national anthem. Matthews previously refrained from protesting in respect of his brother, but after Trump's comments, he said his brother would understand his intentions going forward.
For the Titans' last two games, Matthews has remained in the locker room during the anthem before running onto the field immediately after.