Speaking at a Q&A session with Cardinals season-ticket holders, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urged people to try and understand the perspective of players who choose to sit during the national anthem.
Asked by a Cardinals fan if protests are “going to be another problem” this season, Goodell responded, via ESPN.com. “It’s one of those things where we have to understand that there are people who have different viewpoints. 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.”
There is little doubt national anthem protests will be prevalent this season. The Seahawks’ Michael Bennett and Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem before their teams’ preseason games this weekend, and Bleacher Report spoke with multiple NFL players who expect the protests to continue, especially after the racial violence in Charlottesville this past weekend and President Trump’s initial response to it.
The movement to sit during the anthem to protest perceived racial oppression was started last season by Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick left the 49ers as a free agent this spring and is still unsigned, which many league observers believe is a direct result of his actions.
Goodell said he agrees with a player who told him there is a “time and a place” for such silent protests. Goodell did not reveal who the player was but said, “We all have to, sort of, understand, the responsibility of doing it at the right time and in the right way… 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.”