BOSTON (CBS) — Last year, many fans around the country expressed outrage that then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was allowed to take a knee during the national anthem without suffering any consequence from the NFL.
With more players — including Seattle’s Michael Bennett and Oakland’s Marshawn Lynch — opting to take a seat for the national anthem in their preseason openers last week, the issue figures to once again be a part of the NFL season in 2017.
Despite the loud outcry, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell does not appear to be on the verge of instituting any sort of new policy against the practice.
“It’s one of those things where we have to understand that there are people who have different viewpoints,” Goodell said Monday, according to ESPN. “It’s something that I think everybody wants. The national anthem is a special moment for me. It’s a point of pride. That is a really important moment but we also have to understand the other side — that people do have rights, and we want to respect those.”
Goodell didn’t outright support that method of message-sending from players, and he did speak to how a well-timed message can have the most effectiveness.
“That’s what we all have to, sort of, understand — the responsibility of doing it at the right time and in the right way,” Goodell said. “Protest to progress is what I call it. We all have to recognize that people want to see change. Let’s go out and try to make that happen in a peaceful and an important way.”
Kaepernick remains unsigned, largely due to the perceived “baggage” or “distraction” he would bring to any team that brought him aboard. Bennett is an established star with Seattle, where he’s entering his fifth year with the Seahawks and ninth year in the NFL. Lynch returned from retirement to join his hometown Raiders.