National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter sent to every NFL team that the dispute over football players kneeling during the national anthem is threatening to erode the “unifying power” of the game.
Goodell never expressly says the NFL will require players to stand for the national anthem, an action that would likely spark a labor fight between players and the NFL. He does say, however, that the NFL will discuss the nationwide dispute at an upcoming meeting in New York.
“We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players,” Goodell wrote in the letter obtained by ESPN and several other media outlets.
Here is an excerpt of Goodell’s letter sent to NFL owners and their teams:
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last year in an action intended to draw attention to police violence against black Americans. The NFL protest has escalated this season with players across the league choosing to kneel before or during the anthem.
Opponents to the kneeling during NFL games, including President Donald Trump, have argued that it’s a sign of disrespect for the U.S. and those who have served in its military.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game because members of the opposing 49ers knelt during the anthem.