Community leaders discuss anthem protest

Community reaction to national anthem protests

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- NFL owners meet with the league next week, and they could change the rules to require players to stand for the national anthem.

Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to teams saying the league needs to "move past this controversy" and he says he believes everyone should stand.

We spoke with two community leaders about Goodell’s letter and the anthem protests Tuesday night. Here are parts of the conversations we had with the Presidents of Western New York Heroes and the Buffalo Chapter of the NAACP. Both men are military veterans.

"You had a chance to read the letter Roger Goodell wrote today. What are your initial thoughts?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.

"Well, initially, he's trying to bridge the gap between the owners, the players, and the fans. And, I can understand that. As a commissioner, that's his job to try to make peace with everyone and to try to find the common ground and I can respect him for that. As a leader, that's what he's supposed to do. Unlike other leaders that are trying to cause division. I can respect his efforts," says Rev. Mark Blue from the NAACP.

"Roger Goodell, I hope, can get everybody to finally stop the nonsense. Stop the bickering and the crying over this, and just do what's right. Stand for the national anthem. You want to kneel after or before, do it. Otherwise, find another job. And shame on the NFL for allowing it, because they're doing it on their dime, on the public's dime, who's giving them that $50-million  contract every year," says Chris Kreiger from WNY Heroes.

"The NAACP, we stand with the players. We support them in a peaceful protest. A peaceful demonstration. They're dealing with the underlying issues of the racism, of the unfairness, of the minorities, also of the police brutality that has been across our land,” said Blue.

"You're slapping these individuals who gave their life, you are slapping the individuals in the face whose loved ones gave their life, it has no meaning to take a knee during the national anthem and think you're making a statement," says Kreiger.

"What do you think is the ultimate solution?" asked Dudzik.

"Well, the ultimate solution is to just follow our constitution. Everyone has a right and the freedom to protest," says Blue.

“What do you think the solution to all of this should be?" asked Dudzik.

"Just stand up and honor this country and that national anthem. Honor the flag. Honor those who gave their life so that you can protest. But if you're going to protest, take it off the field," said Kreiger.

The spokesperson for the Bills told 2 On Your Side the team does not have a statement about Goodell's letter. That league meeting is next Tuesday and Wednesday.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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