The NFL has pushed back on President Donald Trump's assertion that the league will begin to punish players for kneeling during the national anthem in protest against police brutality. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told team owners in a letter that he would prefer for players stand during the anthem.
On Oct. 11 at 5:47 a.m., Trump took to social media to assert that the NFL was implementing a rule change that would compel players to stand during the national anthem.
"It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY," the president tweeted out.
Hours after Trump's tweet, ESPN's Adam Schefter released an official NFL response on his Facebook page at 9:25 a.m.
"Commentary this morning about the Commissioner's position on the Anthem is not accurate," the statement read. "As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together."
On Oct. 10, Goodell submitted a memorandum to the 32 NFL team owners, noting that he wanted players to stand during the national anthem instead of kneeling to protest against racial injustice.
"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem," Goodell wrote according to Yahoo Sports. "It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us."
The NFL commissioner added: "We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues ... We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
The latest NFL statement clarified that Goodell's memo did not necessarily mean there would be a rule change to prohibit players from kneeling.
"Commissioner Goodell spent yesterday with Miami Dolphins players, law enforcement and community leaders witnessing first-hand the outstanding work our players and clubs are doing to strengthen their communities," the statement continued, according to Schefter's Facebook post. "Players from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together."
NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart disclosed to reporters that team owners would discuss a potential rule change at an upcoming meeting in New York on Oct. 17 and 18.
"They will have a chance to -- all of them -- discuss this issue, to look at the policy and look at ideas if there is a need to change the policies," Lockhart said, according to Yahoo News. "I fully expect this to be front and center on the agenda."
In August 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the movement of not standing for the anthem to protest against police violence against racial minorities.
"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," Kaepernick told NFL Media at the time. The quarterback is currently a free agent.
Trump has been pressuring NFL owners to amend their league rules to prohibit players from protesting during the anthem. On Sept. 22, the president asserted during an Alabama rally that players who kneeled should be fired.
"Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now,'" Trump told the crowd according to The Guardian. "Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Sources: Adam Schefter/Facebook, Donald J. Trump/Twitter, The Guardian, NFL Media, Yahoo Sports / Feature Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: Sam Benson Smith/WEBN-TV/Flickr, Insancipitory/Wikimedia Commons