NFL: League not seeking mandate for players to stand during anthem

Oct 13 (Reuters) - The NFL said on Friday it has no plans to mandate players stand for the U.S. national anthem, but will rather present a possible solution on how to end the controversial protests when it meets with team owners next week.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with the head of the NFL Players Association, will meet with the owners from Oct. 17-18 in New York where the issue of player protests during the U.S. national anthem is expected to command much attention.

"(Goodell) has a plan that he is going to present to owners about how to use our platform to both raise awareness and make progress on issues of social justice and equality in this country," NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said on a conference call.

"What we don't have is a proposal that changes our policy, we don't have something that mandates anything. That's clear. If that was the case I doubt the head of the NFLPA would have put a joint statement out with us."

13 PHOTOS
How NFL players reacted during the national anthem in Week 5
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How NFL players reacted during the national anthem in Week 5
Oct 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo (left) and linebacker Anthony Barr (center) sing the national anthem prior to a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson (12) sits during the national anthem before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; The New York Jets lock arms for the national anthem before the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 08: Rodney McLeod #23, Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles raise their fists in protest during the playing of the National Anthem as teammate Chris Long #56 shows support before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field on October 8, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Arizona Cardinals 34-7. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 08: Xavier Cooper #96 of the San Francisco 49ers and other members of the team kneel during the National Anthem before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 08: Members of the Jacksonville Jaguars stand for the National Anthem before the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 08: The Los Angeles Rams are seen during the national anthem before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 08: Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, center, stands with arms locked with his team during the playing of the national anthem prior to the start of the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions on October 8, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Carolina defeated Detroit 27-24. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: The Minnesota Vikings lock arms during the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 08: Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins (27), Eagles S Rodney McLeod (23), and Eagles DE Chris Long (56) stand together during the National Anthem before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles on October 08, 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters (22) sits during the National Anthem before the football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on October 8, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Oct 8, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts players and personnel stand during the playing of the National Anthem before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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The statement released on Wednesday said Goodell invited NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith to the meetings and that the agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalised.

The protests, in a league where African-Americans make up the majority of players, have continued through the current season, with some players kneeling and others standing arm-in-arm in solidarity.

The gesture is intended to call attention to what protesting players see as a pattern of racism in the treatment of African-Americans by U.S. police.

The issue has been exacerbated after U.S. President Donald Trump said last month that players who did not stand during the anthem should be fired.

26 PHOTOS
NFL Week 4: How players protested during the national anthem
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NFL Week 4: How players protested during the national anthem
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 Miami Dolphins players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 Miami Dolphins players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 New Orleans Saints players kneel before the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 New Orleans Saints players during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 Miami Dolphins players during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Chicago Bears players kneel in the end zone prior to their game the Green Bay Packers against before the national anthem at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Fans hold up an American flag during national anthem prior to the game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; The Green Bay Packers link arms during the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12), tight end Richard Rodgers (82) and wide receiver Davante Adams (17) link arms during the National Anthem prior to their game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars players stand during the national anthem before their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel before the national anthem before their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Oct 1, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) and linebacker Steve Longa (54) kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Members of the Cleveland Browns raise their fists during the national anthem before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Rams linebacker Robert Quinn (94) raises his fist during the national anthem against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Rams linebacker Robert Quinn (94) raises his fist during the national anthem against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 New Orleans Saints players take the knee before the start of the national anthem Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
Oct 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets players lock arms during the national anthem before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Patriots players stand together for the U.S. National Anthem before their NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Foxborough, Massachusetts, U.S., October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
The New England Patriots players stand together for the U.S. National Anthem before their NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Foxborough, Massachusetts, U.S., October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: The Pittsburgh Steelers stand on the field during the National Anthem on October 1, 2017, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Oct 1, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) and free safety Darian Stewart (26) react along with teammates during the American national anthem before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) and free safety Darian Stewart (26) and cornerback Aqib Talib (21) and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (25) react along with teammates during the American national anthem before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Buffalo Bills players shown during the National Anthem prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Lockhart said the discussions will focus on how to use the broad platforms of the NFL, players and clubs to try and make progress on issues of equality, social justice and criminal justice reform.

"These are issues that are important to our clubs, issues that are important to our players, issues that are important to the communities in which we play," said Lockhart.

"That's what we are discussing. So for everyone who has speculated over the last few days that somehow there is a proposal that is set for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday you are speculating.

"Those who are reporting it as fact are reporting it incorrectly." 

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