BOSTON (CBS) — The discussion over the NFL’s rapidly spreading national anthem protests has officially reached the league offices in New York City. Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly met with a group of 20-30 players and owners on Tuesday night, and two members of the Patriots were present: owner Robert Kraft and safety Devin McCourty.
According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, McCourty and his twin brother Jason attended the meeting with Goodell. Former Patriots Chris Long and Jonathan Casillas, now members of the Eagles and Giants, respectively, also met with the commissioner. Steelers owner Art Rooney II and Giants owner John Mara were among the other owners in attendance.
The meeting was reportedly held “to discuss the kneeling situation and more”. Casillas told ESPN that “there was nothing decided but they got to hear opinions from all sides.”
Reports indicate that the Patriots are going to stand together as a team on Sunday during the national anthem before their game against the Panthers at Gillette Stadium. Some players knelt during the anthem before last Sunday’s game against the Texans, including McCourty.
The Patriots and the rest of the NFL are embroiled in a public war of words with President Donald Trump, who spurred the league-wide national anthem protests last Friday when he remarked during a speech at a rally in Alabama: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'”
The president has only continued to call for the NFL to take action against players who do not stand for the anthem, most recently saying that he believes NFL owners are “afraid of their players” and that he finds it “disgraceful.” Many of the president’s supporters agree with his comments, which led to players being booed in some stadiums (including Gillette Stadium) and others calling for a boycott of the league.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said in a conference call on Thursday that “there is no league-wide directive” on how to handle the controversy moving forward.
UPDATE: Dan Duggan of NJ.com reported that Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater and many other players across the NFL were in attendance for the meeting with Goodell. Casillas said the purpose of the meeting was for the group to determine “what we’re going to do to move forward and how we’re going to approach the whole kneeling situation.”