With NFL owners and league and team officials convening this week for one of several meetings they hold throughout the year, commissioner Roger Goodell gathered several key owners as well as players on Tuesday night for a discussion on player protests.
Dan Duggan of NJ.com was first to report on the summit, which took place at NFL headquarters in New York City; Duggan spoke to New York Giants linebacker and team captain Jonathan Casillas, who was one of the attendees.
Casillas said the roundtable discussion lasted about two hours and included 20-25 attendees. The owners involved includes the Giants’ John Mara, Patriots’ Robert Kraft, Steelers’ Art Rooney II, Eagles’ Jeffrey Lurie, Dolphins’ Stephen Ross, Browns’ Jimmy and Dee Haslam, and Jaguars’ Shad Khan. League vice president of football operations Troy Vincent was also present.
Other players included Philadelphia’s Chris Long, Cleveland’s Jason McCourty and Christian Kirksey, and Patriots Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater.
“We were basically talking about what we’re going to do to move forward and how we’re going to approach the whole kneeling situation,” Casillas said. “It was a whole bunch of opinions shared. There was nothing we decided we’re going to do collectively. I think it was a very conducive meeting.”
While President Donald Trump continues to hammer the NFL and numerous fans have been vocal online about their opposition to the protests happening during the anthem, Casillas said Goodell did not push for players to stop kneeling during the song (the NFL does not have a rule mandating that players must stand).
“Goodell wasn’t really saying too much,” Casillas said. “He was kind of letting the owners and us talk more than anything. I know the owners, for sure, don’t want us kneeling. Not because of what the message is. It’s the message that’s getting across. People are totally misconstruing the kneeling thing, from the beginning.”
Players have repeatedly stressed that they are not protesting the anthem itself or the military, but rather they are taking a knee to bring attention to continuing issues of injustice and inequality. As reported by Yahoo’s Charles Robinson, last month several high-profile players sent a 10-page letter to Goodell and Vincent outlining ways they would like to see the league support efforts to help strengthen communities and player activism.