MINNEAPOLIS — The NFL was noncommittal Wednesday on the issue of whether team owners might act in the offseason to change the sport’s national anthem policy, potentially leaving players in the locker room before games until after the anthem is played.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not answer directly when asked about the possibility during his annual state-of-the-league news conference at the Super Bowl.
“I don’t know what we’ll consider in the offseason,” Goodell said. “I’m still trying to get through the Super Bowl. We’ll turn our attention to the priorities in the offseason. We will work with some competitive issues, which we always start immediately after the regular season and frankly even during the regular season. There’s a couple issues we need to get started right away.”
Several people familiar with the league’s inner workings previously have said that some owners favor such a move and believe there might be enough sentiment among ownership for it to be enacted for next season.
That would come after a 2017 season in which President Trump and some fans criticized players who protested by refusing to stand for the anthem before games.
When owners met in October in New York, they declined to enact a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem. Goodell and some owners said then they were focused instead on discussions with the players that eventually led to an agreement by which the league and teams are providing funding to support players’ social activism.
Goodell cited that social justice initiative Wednesday when asked about the NFL’s anthem policy going forward.
“I think our focus is going to continue on building the platforms that the owners and players spent a great deal of time and unprecedented dialogue creating those platforms,” he said. “I think we’re excited about that.”