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NFL won’t answer “hypotheticals” about teams disciplining players for kneeling

If the NFL enforced standing during the national anthem, it could lead to a big rebellion from players.

In a press conference following the end of owners meetings in New York on Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the league’s position that they want all players to stand during the national anthem but that they won’t be making any rules changes to mandate it.

Almost all of the questions Goodell fielded during his time at the podium had to do with the anthem and this week’s meeting with players about addressing the issues behind their protests, including one about what the league will do if a team disciplines a player for not standing during the national anthem. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested recently that a player who does “anything that is disrespectful to the flag” will not play for the team.

Goodell said that the issue did not come up for discussion when the owners were meeting and that he wouldn’t speculate on how the league would respond if a team did take individual action.

“I can’t deal with hypotheticals right now. We’ll deal with these issues when they come up,” Goodell said.

In comments shown on NFL Network, Giants co-owner John Mara said that it is not productive to force players to stand and that “almost every other owner” feels the same way. If any of those that don’t take action, Goodell and the league will have to move beyond hypotheticals.