Two weeks into the NFL preseason, some players made it clear that they will continue to utilize the national anthem before games to raise awareness for various social issues.
On Monday, speaking to a group of Arizona Cardinals season ticket holders, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shared his thoughts on the matter.
"Well, I think it's one of those things where I think we have to understand that there are people with different viewpoints. It's something that I think everybody wants. The national anthem is a special moment to me. It's a point of pride. That is a really important moment," Goodell said. "But we also have to understand the other side that people do have rights and we want to respect those. But I was with the Jets a few weeks ago and one of the players was there in the fan forum actually and we were talking about this and they were asked the same question. And they said you know, there's a time and a place."
"And that's what we all have to sort of understand. The responsibility of doing it at the right time and in the right way. And what we see is a lot of players going into the community and really taking the platform they have and being active and creating dialogue and actually making really positive change. And that's what I think is so important. Protest to progress is what I call it. And we all have to recognize that people want to see change, let's go out and try to make that change happen in a peaceful and important way. And we've seen our players lead that. We saw that in Denver with Brandon Marshall. We saw it with Doug Baldwin in Seattle. They went out and did some really great things in the community to affect change in a positive way. That's what we want to see our players do and I think that's a positive thing."
The reception among NFL owners, coaches and players remains mixed. While exploring the signing of Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who popularized the national anthem movement last year by kneeling during the song, the Ravens went so far as to poll fans and popular franchise players. Browns coach Hue Jackson said on Monday that "I would hope that we don't have those issues," while noting that he has not had an in-depth conversation with the team about it yet.