Report: Kraft played key role in NFL players, owners meeting with Goodell

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An ESPN report details last week's meeting of NFL players and owners with commissioner Roger Goodell over national anthem protests and the key role of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

The report from Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham says the Patriots today will not kneel but will stand during the national anthem with one hand over their hearts and another hand on the shoulder of the teammate in front of them.

From the story:

Early on, one of the players pointedly told the assembled owners -- in particular Kraft, who this year gave his longtime friend Trump a Super Bowl 51 champions' ring -- "We know a lot of you are in with [President] Trump. This meeting is going on because the players think that some of the people that they work for are with his overall agenda, and that's not in the players' favor."

"I'm not with Trump," [Miami Dolphins owner Stephen] Ross said, alluding to the President's comments about the players. "And I don't mind anyone printing that anywhere."

All eyes turned to Kraft, who had been one of the strongest advocates of hosting this meeting with players. He said that players, while within their rights to peacefully protest, needed to understand that, at the end of the day, the NFL was a business, and that everyone in the room needed to think about it that way and to think about the people they entertain.

Several other owners echoed Kraft's concerns that the president found a way to endanger the sport's popularity with a divisive, politically charged issue. "This could kill football and end our business," an owner said.

The Patriots' plan to stand for the anthem in a unified fashion echoes the comments made earlier this week by Patriots safety Devin McCourty, one of those who kneeled in protest last week. McCourty attended the meeting Tuesday with Kraft and teammate Matthew Slater. 

 

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