The controversy surrounding the decision of some football players to kneel or sit during the National Anthem continues to be a major talking point in the U.S. Now, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has weighed in.
The Guardian reports that, in a letter to the NFL’s 32 teams, Goodell acknowledged the players’ grievances, but urged them to “move past this controversy” and “honor our flag.”
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell wrote in the letter. “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
“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,” he added.
“We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
Goodell did not specifically outline whether the NFL will enforce standing during the Anthem, but strongly recommended players do so.
The NFL’s viewership has been down this season, and many say that is due, at least in part, to Americans’ disagreement with the players’ kneeling during the Anthem. With his letter, Goodell likely hopes to improve league morale, as well as boost viewership.