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Colin Kaepernick first talked about his protest during the national anthem after the San Francisco 49ers preseason game on Aug. 26. As the story gained steam, the NFL released a generic statement saying players were “encouraged but not required” to stand during the anthem.
Nearly two weeks later, commissioner Roger Goodell has made a statement about Kaepernick’s decision, which is odd given that Goodell claimed last year that he makes himself available to media almost every day.
The Associated Press posted a short story with Goodell’s comments, saying it had asked him about Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the anthem (so much time has passed since Kaepernick’s firs comments that his teammate Eric Reid, Seattle’s Jeremy Lane and U.S. Women’s National Soccer team member Megan Rapinoe have joined him in kneeling, Kaepernick has pledged $1 million of his salary this season to organizations working on issues of racial injustice, and his jersey has become the hottest seller in the league).
“I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society. … On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that,” Goodell said.
He added that with NFL players having a visible platform for their viewpoints, “we have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great.”
The NFL believes so strongly in patriotism that up until recently, it was charging the military for “celebrations” like military appreciation night, honoring wounded veterans and full-field American flags.
According to Department of Defense numbers, from 2012 to 2015, the NFL and its teams received $6.1 million for paid patriotism.
Shortly after the AP story posted, NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo tweeted a link with Goodell’s full comments:
“Well my personal thoughts are… I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society. We live in an imperfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that. I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement, and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.
“These are all important things for us, and that moment is a very important moment. So, I don’t necessarily agree with what he is doing. We encourage our players to be respectful in that time and I like to think of it as a moment where we can unite as a country. And that’s what we need more, and that’s what I think football does – it unites our country. So I would like to see us focusing on our similarities and trying to bring people together.
“Players have a platform, and it’s his right to do that. We encourage them to be respectful and it’s important for them to do that.
“I think it’s important if they see things they want to change in society, and clearly we have things that can get better in society, and we should get better. But we have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great.”