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Players, owners meet to discuss social issues in N.Y.

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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A group of players, union leaders, team owners and NFL executives met Tuesday to discuss social issues and plans "to promote equality and effectuate positive change."

"Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities," the NFL and the NFL Players Association said in a joint-statement. "NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.

"As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change."

The meeting included 13 players, 11 owners, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent and commissioner Roger Goodell.

"Today's discussion with our players were very productive and very important," Goodell told reporters Tuesday night. "It reflected our commitment to work together with our players on issues of social justice. I will tell you that our players are men of great character. They have a very deep understanding and tremendous knowledge the issues that are going on in all of our communities. Their commitment to addressing these issues is really admirable and something that I think our owners looked at as saying 'We want to help you support you. Those are issues that affect us. They're our issues also. We'd like to do it together.'

"The players were very clear about how they felt about these issues and how deeply they felt about these issues in our communities. I think finally the players and the owners came to an agreement that these aren't really issues that are players issues or owner issues or community issues. They're issues that affect all of us in our communities. And our commitment that they wanted to work together to try to address these issues."

Goodell told reporters that players, owners and the league plan to meet again soon, and he "would expect that to happen in the next two weeks."

"I think that's the most important thing when it comes to these issues, is perspective and respecting everyone's rights regardless of how they feel, whether it's peacefully protesting or speaking on these issues, I think it's important to respect everyone," Colts cornerback Darius Butler said following the meeting.

Butler said he was happy with the result of Tuesday's session.

"Yeah, I am. I'm happy about it and I think even more positive going forward.

In a joint statement released by the NFL and NFLPA last week, both the league and union stated there have been no changes to the current policy regarding the national anthem.

"It's not going to be a resolution overnight," Butler said. "But obviously these are issues that are important to the players and that's what we talked about and just talked about some things going forward."

Goodell told reporters that players were not asked to commit to standing during the national anthem.

"We spent today talking about the issues that our players have been trying to bring attention to about issues in our communities to make our communities better," Goodell said. "And I think we all agree there's nothing more important trying to give back to our communities and make our communities better. That was our entire focus today."

One player absent from Tuesday's meeting was free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins told reporters that Kaepernick was invited to attend and he does not know why Kaepernick chose not to.

Kaepernick's attorney, Mark Geragos, released the following statement regarding Tuesday's meeting to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

"Colin Kaepernick was not invited to attend today's meeting by any official from the NFL or any team executives. Other players wanted him present and have asked that he attend the next meeting with the goal of forging a lasting and faithful consensus around these issues. Mr. Kaepernick is open to future participation on these important discussions."

The meeting came a day after Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and Goodell issued a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and three other senators in support of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017.

"That was something that was brought forward by a player and the fact that they're supportive obviously shows that they're interested in helping these efforts," Jenkins told reporters. "There's so much more that we need to be doing but it's definitely a good start."

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