The NFL said it is not interested in having a mediator join talks between the league and players regarding community activism and players’ protests during the national anthem.
“The real strength of the dialogue going on is that it is direct,” Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
Lockhart said there currently is not another face-to-face meeting scheduled between the league and players.
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid invited the league to a meeting next week with a mediator involved. Under Reid’s proposal, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick would have participated in that meeting.
Kaepernick remains unsigned after starting the players’ protest movement last season. He has filed a grievance against teams accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league.
Lockhart reiterated Tuesday that, in the league’s view, Kaepernick is free to join the discussions between the league and players if he is invited by the players.
Representatives of owners and players met last month at the NFL’s offices in New York. Owners held their regularly scheduled fall meeting immediately afterward at a Manhattan hotel. Owners emerged from that meeting without a requirement for players to stand for the anthem.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owners said at last month’s meeting they believe that players should stand for the anthem. But the owners stopped short of mandating it. Owners said they were focused on discussions with the players about players’ activism, hoping that a plan for league support of those efforts would lead players to choose to voluntarily stand for the anthem. However, owners said there was no explicit or implied agreement that such support necessarily would lead to players standing for the anthem.
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