NFL owners gather at annual meeting, discuss National Anthem protests

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(CNN Money) — NFL owners have a lot to talk about.

They’re gathering in New York for two days of meetings, with the league convulsed by player protests during the National Anthem — and by opposition to the protests, led by President Trump himself.

Team owners are expected to discuss the protests. But an NFL spokesman says the league does not expect to change its policy, which says only that players should stand during the Anthem, not that they must.

Beginning with Colin Kaepernick last year, dozens of players have taken a knee during the Anthem to protest racial injustice. Kaepernick is now a free agent, and has filed a grievance against the owners, alleging they colluded to keep him from being signed.

Kaepernick “was not invited to attend” the NFL’s meetings by the league or any team executives, according to the attorney representing him in his grievance claim. However, “players wanted him present and have asked that he attend the next meeting.”

According to his attorney’s statement, Kaepernick is “open to future participation.”

Several players met with a group of team owners before the larger league meeting to discuss social activism.

Last week, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league needs to “move past this controversy” over the anthem. But he said, “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem.”

The protests got even more attention after President Trump denounced them during a campaign-style rally in Alabama in September. He said that any players who refused to stand should be fired.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a [explicative] off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired,'” he said.

After Trump’s attack, hundreds of players joined the protest, and the NFL promoted the message that it was unified.

Several owners released statements criticizing the president’s comments and some locked arms with their players during the anthem.

Since that show of solidarity, the strain has only grown. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said any player who “disrespects the flag” will not play.

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