No NFL player who has used the national anthem to protest against racism and police brutality has faced punishment from the league. That could be about to change. The Wall Street Journal reports NFL owners are scheduled to meet next week, and league spokesperson Joe Lockhart expects player protests "to be front and center on the agenda." Owners are reportedly considering changing the section of the NFL manual that states players "should" stand for the national anthem in order to make it a requirement. "We believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem," ESPN quotes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as saying in a letter to teams Tuesday. "It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us."
Owners are said to be privately concerned about an ongoing fight with the president affecting their bottom lines. Weeks into his attack on kneeling players, President Trump shows no sign of stopping. "Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!" the president tweeted Tuesday. (The NFL gave up its tax exempt status in 2015.) And Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a White House press conference Tuesday the administration is "glad to see the NFL taking positive steps" toward ending protests during the anthem, the Washington Post reports. While a source says "there is no fixed proposal" yet for requiring players to stand for the anthem, Lockhart says the owners believe they can make the change without the consent of the players union. (Read more NFL stories.)