NFL: Trump's anthem tweet 'not accurate'

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- The NFL disputed the accuracy of President Donald Trump's latest tweet Wednesday morning when he praised the league for "finally demanding" players to stand for the national anthem.

Trump said on Twitter that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is now ordering all players to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner.

"It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY," Trump said in an early morning tweet.

Goodell issued a memo to all 32 teams on Tuesday in a bid to end the controversy surrounding player protests during the national anthem. But the commissioner stopped short of demanding or ordering players to stand.

"Commentary this morning about the commissioner's position on the anthem is not accurate," the NFL said in a statement Wednesday morning. "As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together.

"Commissioner Goodell spent yesterday with Miami Dolphins players, law enforcement and community leaders witnessing first-hand the outstanding work our players and clubs are doing to strengthen their communities. Players from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together."

In addition, the NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement on Wednesday.

"Commissioner Roger Goodell reached out to NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith today and both he and player leadership will attend the League meetings next week," the statement read. "There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem. The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized.

"Everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these issues in a civil and constructive way."

In Tuesday's memo, Goodell wrote in part:

"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.

"We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."

The NFL's current anthem policy states that players "should" stand for the anthem, but does not require it.

Goodell wrote the NFL has developed a plan to review during next week's fall league meeting in New York based on discussions with teams and players. The plan "would include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues, and that will help to promote positive change in our country," Goodell said.

Trump has called on NFL owners to fire players who do not stand for the anthem over the last month, saying their protest "disrespects the flag" and the country. Vice President Mike Pence walked out of the Indianapolis Colts' home game against San Francisco on Sunday after seeing more than 20 players from the 49ers kneeling with their hands over their hearts for the second straight week.

"I left today's Colts game because POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted Sunday.

About an hour later, Trump tweeted that Pence was acting in response to his instructions.

"I asked VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and SecondLady Karen," Trump tweeted.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any player who kneeled for the anthem.

"If there's anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play," Jones said after the Cowboys' 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. "Understand? We will not ... if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period."

Trump's position unified more NFL players to protest racial injustice before or during the anthem. He said during a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 22 that NFL owners should fire the players who knelt during the anthem.

"We're proud of our country. We respect our flag," Trump said to loud applause at the campaign event. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'"

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew national attention last season when he knelt during the national anthem as a protest to denounce police brutality against African-Americans, social injustice and racial inequality. A number of players followed Kaepernick's lead by taking a knee during the anthem last year.

NFL players who have demonstrated during the national anthem have said they are protesting police brutality and racism, but not the flag or the anthem itself.

Updated October 11, 2017