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The NFL has made a ruling on penalizing players for kneeling for the national anthem.

After a meeting with team owners, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters in New York, “We believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. That's an important part of our policy,” according to CBS News.

However, he declined to make a rule to enforce that preference. Goodell also defended the players protesting, saying, “Our players will state to you publicly they are not doing this in any way to be disrespectful to the flag.”

Goodell was then asked about the NFL's bottom line after the protests, particularly the popularity of the league with viewers. The reporter asking the question defined the NFL popularity down partisan lines, asking:

“One of the things we’ve seen in the polling, Gallop had numbers that show the popularity of pro football starting to come down. It shows there’s a big political divide. Republicans identifying as pro football fans is down 50%. It's down only 3% with Democrats. Does it directly speak to the anthem protest? What’s your reaction to those numbers and what if any steps can be taken to reverse that trend?”

Goodell answered the question, sidestepping the political issue and saying the NFL is “listening to our players, understanding our players, trying to address those underlying issues.”

When asked again about the partisan split among Republicans and Democrats, Goodell shrugged it off.

“I don’t think that surprises anybody,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is stay out of politics. We’re not looking to get into politics. What we’re looking to do is continue to keep people focused on football.”

The NFL getting into politics is what lost the viewership in the first place, according to recent polling.

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