Sports | October 17, 2017 9:29 am

NFL Owners, Players Seek Common Ground at League Meeting

Sideline protests will be high on the docket, but open lines of communication are most important.

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Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles raises his fist as he stands during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 10, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

For the last two weeks, rumors have abounded as to what will come out of the National Football League meetings taking place today in New York City. There’s been talk of a policy change, one that would force players to stand during the national anthem. There’s also been talk of pushback from the players. And there’s the greater question of where the NFL stands on all of it.

For well over a year, the protests that began with now former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have mushroomed—and also been distorted, in the sense that their original message, a protest of social injustice, has been re-spun as one that is unpatriotic. The president and vice president have waded into the debate on the side of the latter; while many others—including non-football players—have taken up the banner of the former.

But as Sports Illustrated explains, just getting the owners and players on the same page will be maybe even more difficult than resolving the sideline protest issue.

Besides the main get-together, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, a second, smaller conference a few hours beforehand will take place between players and owners not specifically concerning the national anthem and league-wide protests, but “how the NFL can be a better partner in supporting the issues that players care about most,” notes SI. That’ll be the key for both meetings.

Another integral outcome will be allowing the protesting players’ voices to be heard. As SI argues, “Instituting a new rule requiring all players to stand during the anthem would run counter to that and … would spur a fresh round of intense interest in how players would respond during that weekend’s games.”