NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell invited Smith to
the Oct. 17-18 meetings in New York, where the issue of some
players kneeling in protest when the anthem is played before
each game is expected to command much attention.
"There has been no change in the current policy regarding the
anthem," the two sides said in a statement. "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."
The protests, in a league where African-Americans make up the
majority of players, have continued through the season, with
some players kneeling and others standing arm-in-arm in
The gesture is intended to call attention to what protesting
players see as a pattern of racism in the treatment of
African-Americans by U.S. police.
The issue has been exacerbated after U.S. President Donald Trump
said last month that players who did not stand during the anthem
should be fired, prompting many NFL players to kneel and lock
arms in solidarity.
The NFL requires players to stand for the anthem and face the
American flag, but no player has been disciplined for a protest.
League spokesman Joe Lockhart, speaking during a conference call
on Tuesday, said the issue had overshadowed the season and
owners would discuss it in the hopes of getting "back to
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Greg
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