MINNEAPOLIS — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will encourage players to use their voice to promote social change as the demonstrations during the national anthem started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last month continue to spread to other teams.
Speaking before the Minnesota Vikings’ first regular-season game at their new stadium against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, Goodell told a group of reporters the movement from “protests to progress” is a positive sign.
“As I’ve said before, I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change the community,” Goodell said. “We don’t live in a perfect society. We want them to use that voice. And they’re moving from protests to progress and trying to make things happen in the communities. And I admire that about our players, (being) willing to do that.
“Obviously, we want to respect people. We want to respect our differences. We want to reflect our flag and our country, and our players understand that. So I think where they’re moving and how they’re moving there is very productive, and we’re going to encourage that.
Goodell said he hasn’t reached out to Kaepernick directly.
Kaepernick once again kneeled during The Star-Spangled Banner before the 49ers’ loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Members of the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers were among others demonstrating in different ways during the anthem. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said in a radio interview his team will do some sort of demonstration before Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears.
Goodell also addressed the NFL’s openness to a franchise in Las Vegas in light of a Nevada infrastructure committee recently recommending $750 million in public funding toward a stadium project to lure the Oakland Raiders.
“Any franchise location or relocation is subject to 24 votes, and it’s a membership decision which, ultimately, they have to make that decision,” Goodell said. “And there’s still a lot that has to happen before we can get to that stage. So, recognize that they came out of committee with a bill — there’s still a lot of work to be done to approve that recommendation. And then of course, ultimately, the membership’s going to have to approve that.”
Goodell wouldn’t directly address his personal feelings about having a franchise so close to sports books other than to acknowledge it’s “part of our evaluation” of the market. And he wouldn’t rule out the Raiders finding a stadium solution that keeps them in their existing market.
“I think we can do it in Oakland," he said. "I believe that there is a solution there.”
Goodell credited the Minneapolis community for helping foot the $1.1 billion bill for the Vikings’ new home, U.S. Bank Stadium. He also praised owners Zygi and Mark Wilf for seeing it through.
“The way they brought the tradition and the history of the team in — I think it’s really incredibly well done,” Goodell said.
"Stadiums are complex. They’re difficult. And they deserve a lot of credit for doing this incredibly well.”