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NFL focusing on community efforts rather than anthem policies to address players' social justice involvement

ORLANDO, Fla. – As the NFL wrapped up its annual meeting Wednesday, Roger Goodell steered clear of any discussion about action the league might take regarding players protests during the national anthem.

Instead, the commissioner talked about the cooperation between the NFL and the NFL Players Coalition that was formed last year and whose representatives met with league owners last October.

Goodell touted the fact that on Monday owners approved, by a 32-0 vote, a seven-year, $90-million social justice initiative to create a platform to "address the issues which the plays had raised, they're passionate about."

"I think we've really come together in a unique program to support the players and to work between the teams and the players to address those issues in the the communities," Goodell said. "That was the vast majority of our conversation over the last couple of days."

The anthem was discussed here this week.

"But only in the context of, is this the platform which to help the players address these issues in their communities and make sure that we're in a better place?" the commissioner said.

Some NFL owners have been vocal about the need for protests during the anthem to stop, because they're casting a negative light on the league and have adversely impacted attendance and television ratings of game coverage.

The Bills' Terry Pegula, who was one of the club owners who met with Players Coalition representatives at league headquarters in New York in October, vaguely addressed the protest issue with reporters here Tuesday.

"We are working towards a resolution," Pegula said. "The players, the owners, coaching staff, our management, we all love our country. And it's a tough, tough situation and we're working towards a resolution, hopefully, soon."

Asked if he personally believed there is a need to change the NFL's current national anthem policy, Goodell said, "That's something that the ownership and I will continue to discuss and focus on as we feel it's needed. I think, to me, my focus has been almost entirely on listening to players, understanding what they were protesting. We now understand that better and have a deeper knowledge from our players as well as others in the communities."

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