The NFL's leaders are continuing to drag their feet regarding the players' decision to protest during the national anthem — even as the organization's ratings continue swirling downward.
On Tuesday, the league held a meeting to discuss social change and racial inequality with 11 NFL team owners and 13 players, according to NBC Sports, and they reached no solution for the continued national anthem controversy.
In fact, according to Sports Illustrated reporter Albert Breer, the NFL has no plans to address or make a rule change regarding “The Star-Spangled Banner”:
Per league source, as of now, there's nothing in regards to any rules change on the anthem on the agenda for the NFL's fall meeting.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 17, 2017
In a joint statement about the meeting, the NFL and the NFL Players Association described the sit-down as “productive” and reiterated the organization's “tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military.”
Here's the full statement:
Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.
As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change.
In what appeared to be an olive branch to protesting athletes Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who wishes players would stand for the anthem, and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsing a criminal justice reform bill.
“Over the last two seasons,” they wrote, in part, “one particular issue that had come to the forefront for our players and our teams is the issue of justice for all.”
The protest, originally intended to raise awareness about perceived racial injustice in the U.S., reached a fever pitch after President Donald Trump criticized the demonstration in late September, suggesting any athletes who take a knee during the national anthem should be fired.
As a result, hundreds of players protested. Shortly thereafter, Vice President Mike Pence attended an Indianapolis Colts game only to leave the stadium after numerous San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the patriotic ceremony.
In the weeks since the protest reached widespread popularity in the NFL, stadiums have routinely ended up with thousands of empty seats.