Niners CEO Jed York addressed the media after the owners meeting in New York on Tuesday.
Jacob Feldman/The MMQB

The NFL will not force its players to stand for the national anthem

By Jacob Feldman
October 18, 2017

The NFL will not force its players to stand for the national anthem. That was the biggest takeaway from Tuesday’s league meeting between players, owners and commissioner Roger Goodell. In fact, such a possibility was not discussed during the morning gathering with players or the afternoon’s owners-only session (and Eric Reid later said he'd continue kneeling). Instead, players spent much of their time with 11 team owners and Goodell explaining the social issues they see in America and what they feel franchises could do to better support their work in those areas.

“We spent today talking about the issues that players have been trying to bring attention to,” Goodell said during a brief press conference. “I think we all agree there’s nothing more important than trying to give back to our communities and make them better. That was the entire focus of today.”

The decision to focus on social issues rather than the anthem protests comes with an understanding that it will not please President Donald Trump, or many of his followers, who have taken an increasingly negative view of the league. “Everybody understands that we're going to get baited, whether it's from the President or whether it's from other detractors,” 49ers co-owner Jed York said. “We need to be above petty attacks from anybody, because racial and socioeconomic inequality has existed in this country for too long. We need to get the focus on that, and we need to make sure that we make progress there.” York also had a message for fans who have turned off the sport because of the protests. “If the message gets distorted, then I understand why there is controversy and I understand why people are upset. But if we can work together, we will get back to football but we will also make our country a better place, and I hope everybody is for both of those things.”

Two other notable comments from the 49ers boss, who has dealt with the anthem issue the longest and who spoke the most at the end of the day Tuesday:

• “Our country is more important than a slight economic impact.… This issue is more important than economics.”

• “Honestly, this is one of the proudest days I’ve ever felt being a part of the National Football League.”

The owners are meeting again Wednesday, and Goodell is expected to hold a longer session with the media afterwards. The league has already shown its new willingness to embrace players’ causes, with Goodell co-signing a letter to Congress in support of a criminal justice reform bill. “That’s the most important partner that we have—our players,” York said. “If we’re not working with our players and we aren’t sincere about that . . . then what are we about?”

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PRESS COVERAGE

Ezekiel Elliott is once again allowed to play for the Cowboys while his legal proceedings carry on.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

1. In the ping-pong match that is Ezekiel Elliott's legal battle with the NFL, the Dallas RB scored a point when a U.S. District judge ruled that Elliott would be eligible to play again—for now.

2. How should Packers coach Mike McCarthy scheme for inexperienced backup Brett Hundley? “The template for where the Green Bay Packers go from here isn't 2013,” write Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty. “It's 2008.”

NFL
Brett Hundley Is In, and for Mike McCarthy the Pressure Is On

3. Bills rookie linebacker Tanner Vallejo was uniquely impacted by wildfires in California. His father and two older brothers are all firefighters; his mother and younger brother had to evacuate their Penn Valley, Calif., home.

4. Thirty years after playing for the Bucs as a replacement player during the NFL's 24-day strike, Sankar Montoute still shows up to the stadium for home games, only now he's a supervisor for stadium security. 

Carson Wentz hype continues to mount.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

5. Carson Wentz stock is at an all-time high. The second-year passer is now the NFL MVP favorite according to online betting house Bovada and his jersey sits atop Dick's Sporting Goods' popularity ranking. Local columnist Mike Sielski has his eye on the Eagles defense, though, specifically new (and newly confident) corner Patrick Robinson.

6. With the Browns now 0-6 this season and 1-21 overall under Hue Jackson, it's time to answer the questions: How are we supposed to judge this regime? And how much time do they deserve?

7. The Saints seem happy about Adrian Peterson's early success in Arizona. “Coach said it earlier this week,” Mark Ingram said. “It was a win-win for both teams. He gets to go to place where he can carry the ball and be effective because he still is.”

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'Rejuvenated' Adrian Peterson Shows Flashes of His Old Self in First Game with Cardinals

8. The Chiefs have signed C.J. Spiller . . . for the fourth time this year.

9. Julius Peppers is on pace for a career high in sacks. He’s 37. Sunday he’ll get a reminder of his longevity when he looks across the field and sees former coach John Fox.

10. Kickoff returners should maybe not return so many kickoffs?

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.


THE KICKER

Yes, Martavis Bryant would like to be traded. To the Warriors.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Email me directly or let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

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