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Roger Goodell: 'No policy change' on national anthem

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that "there has been no policy change" regarding players standing for the national anthem before games.

Speaking with NFL Network's Nate Burleson in New York, Goodell addressed a claim made Wednesday morning by President Trump on Twitter that the NFL is "demanding" players stand for the anthem.

"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."

A league spokesperson told NFL.com on Wednesday that "commentary this morning about the Commissioner's position on the Anthem is not accurate. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together."

In a joint statement released by the NFL and NFL Players Association on Wednesday, 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 told Burleson 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," Goodell said. "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."

Goodell also stressed to Burleson the importance of having a dialogue to learn and understand from one another.

"We need more understanding," Goodell said, "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."

Miami Dolphins players, team staff and Goodell on Tuesday met with Miami-area police as part of team's Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. The group met with North Miami Police Dept. and Broward County Sheriff officers as part of the program, which included a ride along.

"The most important thing I've learned is how important this is to our players and how much work they have actually done in their communities to identify these issues and identify solutions, more importantly," Goodell said. "By sharing that with us and sharing that with our ownership, there is a deeper understanding of each other and how we can go about making our communities better, collectively. We want to support one another in that effort and that is what makes me proudest of our players and proudest of our league."

Goodell added: "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."

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