NFL Chief Goodell Flip-Flops: "We Believe Everyone Should Stand For The Anthem"

Update 2 (6 pm ET): While NFL owners are preparing to discuss a unilateral rule change to ban kneeling, Deadspin has pointed out that, technically, such a rule change has already been made.

An excerpt from the league's “game operations manual”  - officially titled the “Policy Manual for Member Clubs" -  that has made the rounds on social media clearly shows that players can be fined of suspended if they don't stand, or aren't present on field for, the anthem.

However, a copy obtained by Deadspin from 2014 doesn't contain the language about possible fines and suspensions....

...suggesting that the "policy change" was made some time during the last three years.

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Update: Perhaps the most stunning aspect of all of this is the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has now issued a statement completely flip-flopping on his previous attack of the president's demands for players to stand during the national anthem.

Here is Goodell on 9/23:

"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture... Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players."

And now today, via The Hill, Goodell decides that "everyone should stand for the national anthem."

 Goodell said the controversy over NFL players kneeling in protest during the anthem “is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.”

 

“Like many of our fans we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us," Goodell added in his statement.

 

“We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."

Full Statement:

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As we detailed earlier, it appears that Trump is about to have the last laugh in his long-running spat with the NFL.

Moments ago, Dow Jones reported that NFL owners are considering a rule change that would require players to stand for national anthem.

A league spokesman said that the owners would discuss the potential change during a meeting next week, Dow Jones reported.

In recent seasons, primarily black professional football players have knelt during the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. The protests started after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year began kneeling during the anthem to protest police mistreatment of black Americans.

As a reminder, earlier on Tuesday Trump tweeted that tax laws should be changed so that the NFL doesn't get "massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country."

The Feud started in late September, when the president renewed discussion about the protests when he urged owners to "fire" the "son of a bitch" who kneels during the anthem.

And while we await more details, we wonder just how dramatic the NFL viewership - and ad revenue - collapse in the past few weeks must have been for the football league, which initially was so vocally against Trump, to make such an dramatic and unexpected U-turn.