NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hosted a roundtable discussion Tuesday night at the NFL headquarters that was attended by a small group of NFL players and team owners to discuss the wave of protests during the National Anthem last week.
According to New York Giants defensive co-captain Jonathan Casillas, who was part of the group along with team co-owner John Mara, others who were in attendance included Robert Kraft of the Patriots, Shahid Khan of Jacksonville, Jimmy and Dee Haslam of Cleveland, Art Rooney II of Pittsburgh, Stephen Ross of Miami, and Jeff Lurie of Philadelphia plus players such as Eagles defensive end Chris Long, the McCourty twins, and Matthew Slater of the Patriots.
“We basically talked about the anthem, the kneeling that happened this past weekend and how we did show solidarity basically against (President Donald) Trump’s statement and what we’re going to do moving forward,” Casillas said.
And what did they conclude?
“I know the owners for sure don’t want us kneeling. Not because of what the message is, but it’s what the message is getting across. People are totally misconstruing the kneeling thing, from the beginning, from when [quarterback Colin] Kaepernick did it in the beginning,” Casillas said.
“We have nothing but the most upmost respect for not only the flag, but what it represents. The military and the people that serve, the soldiers that we lost and fought for our freedom,” he said.
That message, according to Casillas, is aimed at social injustices in society.
“So, [the protests] have been totally misconstrued, and it hasn’t just happened this past weekend, it’s been going on since Kaepernick did it last August. So, maybe we’ve got to figure something else out, another way to maybe get across the reason why the protest happened from the beginning, which is because of social injustices that have been happening to minorities since the beginning of time. That’s the reason why the kneeling has happened from the beginning.”
In a separate yet related note, Mara also held a team meeting whose attendees included the team’s three season captains, Casillas, Eli Manning, and Zak DeOssie; Landon Collins and Damon Harrison, who both took a knee last week during the playing of the National Anthem; and Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Pugh, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
“John Mara said he requests that we all stand, but he’s in full support of anybody that kneels. At the end of the day, you can’t ask for more than that,” Casillas said.