NFL owners, players to meet next week to discuss social issues

When the owners and players left New York City on Tuesday, they vowed to meet again to continue to make progress on how the two sides can work together on social issues.

A date has now been identified for the meeting. A source directly involved with the planning of the meeting says it's scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 31. And at this point, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not expected to be there.

There will be no rule change forcing players to stand for the national anthem, as we learned last week, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell left the Fall League Meeting optimistic at making progress toward no players wanting to protest.

"The fact is that we have about half a dozen players that are protesting," Goodell said last week. "We hope and continue to work to try to put that at zero -- that's what we'd like to do. But we want to make sure we're understanding what the players are talking about, and that's complex."

Players were encouraged last week that team owners were listening to them. Giants co-owner Paul Mara and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the changed their takes on the matter after listening to players explain their concerns. One source told's Judy Battista it was the best communication between players and owners they could remember.

What will come from this dialogue? A source with knowledge of what was discussed during the meeting said two specific examples of issues important to players were brought to the attention of owners.

One of the points of discussion was a commitment from owners to let players meet with lawmakers, chiefs of police, administrators and others who make a direct impact in their local communities. As Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins has said, it's one thing to make a difference in the country overall, but the tangible differences can be made in their own communities. Players have participated in ride-alongs with police, but some want to take the next step and create community programs with local police.

That's one idea, and there was a pledge by management to do that.

Another example given was a league-wide campaign aimed at stamping out racism or a public service-based campaign aimed at promoting equality.

There were plenty of other things addressed, but those two examples give an idea of what is coming. And the hope is it contributes to players deciding on their own not to protest during the national anthem before games.

"I think most of us believe that attempting to force the players to do something that they don't want to do is not going to be effective in the long run," Mara said this week. "The better policy going forward is to try to have dialogue with them and try to show them that we're willing to work with them on some of these issues that all of us are concerned about. That's been my philosophy with my team, and I think almost every other owner feels the same."

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