In the week since widespread protests in the NFL in response to comments made by President Donald Trump, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has had his hands full.
Goodell and most of the league’s owners initially stood against Trump’s disparagement of the game and of its protesters. However, a report from Don Van Natta, Jr. and Seth Wickersham on ESPN.com Sunday morning claims that Goodell tried to backdoor the NFLPA in an effort to stop the protests in the week since.
At the behest of the owners and the commissioner, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent invited many team captains from throughout the league to meet at league headquarters with many of the owners to try to meet an impasse. The only problem was, the NFLPA wasn’t informed about the meeting until Tuesday morning.
Goodell and Smith had spoken for 30 minutes on Monday with Smith claiming that he got the impression the meaning of the phone call was to end protests and protect business interests. No mention of the following day’s meeting was made.
More than a dozen players who had initially agreed to attend the meeting backed out after they were informed that union leadership hadn’t been informed. Eight players from five teams did go to the meeting, where they were reportedly told by owners that, while they were within their rights to peacefully protest, the politicizing of the game could “end our business.”
Patriots safety Devin McCourty was in attendance and said he felt both sides came away with a better understanding of the other’s position. However, it was also clear that tensions were elevated by the breakdown in communication.
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