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Roger Goodell: NFL fans don’t come to stadiums ‘to be protested to’

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell perhaps made his strongest remarks regarding the league’s national anthem protest controversy by stating, “People come to our stadiums to be entertained and have fun, not to be protested to.”

Goodell was a speaker at Bloomberg’s The Year Ahead Summit in New York on Wednesday and to no surprise the polarizing anthem protest issue was addressed.

Goodell opened his remarks by expressing a preference for players to stand during the anthem.

“I think that’s one of the things I think when we have a platform the way we do people seek to find that division and I think that’s something we try to resist,” Goodell said, via SB Nation. “And in this case I’ve been very clear about this — the anthem, the respect for our flag is very important. So I want to see our players stand.”

Goodell’s comments at the forum echo what he said in October about the protest issue. Goodell stated at the time the NFL would not ban players from protesting during the anthem but would continue to “encourage them to stand.”

Goodell also reiterated during the summit that the NFL prefers to avoid politics, a sentiment he has previously expressed, especially in light of President Donald Trump waging an all-out war with the league over the issue.

“I think you’re getting into something, getting into politics is not something we do,” Goodell said. “Values aren’t necessarily about politics. Values are the way you do things and I think we want to make sure we do things at the highest standards. And I think people expect us to.”

Goodell sought to highlight how the league’s owners attempt to heed player concerns on issues such as social justice and community-based activism.

“I’m proud of our players for that and proud of our owners for listening, supporting them and trying to give them a platform in which to make improvements in our society, which we’re all about and do that in a way and get beyond what we call ‘protest to progress’,” Goodell said.