NFL owners said they decided change their anthem policy due tofans expressing their anger towards players kneeling during the National Anthem. Some owners said they received many angry letters from fans.
NFL officials contend that the new policy regarding the national anthem was more of a response to fans who attend games rather than fear of reprisal from President Trump.
Officials from around the league told Sports Illustrated on Thursday they heard from a lot of their fans, some who were angry with their team and others who were upset with the league.
“You know how many letters I got last fall?” Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney said. “Yeah, the fans’ point of view on this was definitely a factor. We heard from a lot of fans over the last six months. No question that was part of the decision-making. [Those] people expect the players to be respectful during the anthem. Pretty simple.”
Dallas Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said that fans come to the game to get a break from the everyday norms.
“People come to our games to get away from everything,” Jones said. “They don’t want to worry about their finances, they don’t want to worry about their job, [and] they don’t want to worry about what’s in the news. They want to get away and relax for three or four hours.”
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York, the only official to abstain from the vote, said people have had enough of the “political fights.”
“I think people do want to get back to football. But our players also have the ability, and the right to champion their causes and bring attention to those causes,” York said.