EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. >> NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a round-table meeting with roughly 25 owners, league executives and players on Tuesday night to discuss the national anthem demonstrations.
New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said the summit at the league’s headquarters in New York lasted roughly two hours and was attended by several of the NFL’s most prominent owners, including John Mara of the Giants, Robert Kraft of the Patriots and Art Rooney II of the Steelers. NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent also attended along with eight players from five teams.
Casillas said the group talked about what to do to move forward and how to approach the “whole kneeling situation.”
“It was a whole bunch of opinions shared,” Casillas said. “There was nothing we decided we’re going to do collectively. I think it was a very conducive meeting.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the gathering was one of the many conversations that have happened this week within the NFL.
“The commissioner believed with all the owners here for committee meetings it was important to bring in some players and hear directly from them,” McCarthy said in responding to an email from The Associated Press. “While the conversations will remain private, they were very informative and instructive.”
Patriots safety Devin McCourty and special teams captain Matt Slater both joined Kraft for the meeting with Goodell. McCourty said his biggest takeaway was “just understanding.”
“From both sides,” McCourty said. “I think that players saw that when owners came out with different statements on Sunday. I think the biggest thing is as players we have to keep in the forefront what we want to get (awareness for) — the inequality, the injustice. I think that’s what’s important.”
McCourty emphasized not only the unity on the Patriots, but throughout the NFL.
“I think we gotta make sure this whole thing doesn’t turn into the NFL vs. Donald Trump,” he said. “As players … we have an agenda of what we think can be done better. We’re trying to use our platform. We have to stick to that.
“It’s not really this war of whether does the NFL have our back or let’s battle Trump. But I do think (the owners) are willing to help us get some of these things going. Hopefully that is what happens out of all of this.”