NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tacitly acknowledged the damage done by the politicization of football in remarks delivered on Wednesday.
“People come to our stadiums to be entertained and have fun,” the commissioner noted, “not to be protested to.”
The remarks came as part of Bloomberg’s The Year Ahead Summit and reflect a recognition of a ratings decline and criticism from some sponsors. Though Goodell held that he hoped to learn from the concerns of players, he reiterated his desire that they stand for the national 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 explained of the protests. “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.”
Despite the league’s endorsement last month of federal legislation aimed at reforming federal prisons and sentencing, Goodell maintained that “politics is not something we do.”