WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - The NFL plans to hold another meeting early next week with players and union representatives to address social injustice issues.
This time, the league not only expects Colin Kaepernick to be invited but also to welcome him to the discussions.
“I don’t have the exact details of the where and when, but I expect early next week there to be another meeting, similar to the meetings we have had in the past,” NFL vice president of communications Joe Lockhart said Wednesday in a conference call before listing some past attendees.
“My understanding is Colin Kaepernick has been invited to these last two meetings.
He has been in the discussion with the players’ coalition.
I expect that he will be invited to this meeting.
We look forward to him joining the conversation with the (NFL Players Association), but I don’t have any confirmation that he’s planning to attend.”
The first meeting was held Oct. 17 in Midtown Manhattan at NFL headquarters prior to the start of the league’s fall meetings.
Lockhart’s response Wednesday indicates that the NFL does not handle the specific invitations.
His answer, instead, puts the responsibility of player invitations on a group of players who have been most active in fighting for social justice causes.
After last week’s meetings, multiple of the 13 players who attended said they wanted Kaepernick to be there.
Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, issued a statement Oct. 17, indicating that his client did not receive an invitation from “any official from the NFL or any team executives.”
Kaepernick has remained unemployed after he started a wave of social activism in the NFL by protesting issues of police brutality and inequality during the pre-game playing of the national anthem last season.
Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league Oct. 15, claiming collusion by NFL owners.
Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys has been the most outspoken of the league’s owners against player protests, after he said earlier this month that he would bench any player seen as being “disrespectful to the flag.”
Over the weekend, Jones said that, “There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests.”
The NFL dismissed those concerns.
“The NFL brand is always about unity and not about politics,” Lockhart said. “When politics gets injected into any business, that can have an impact on the brand. I will say this, we are in constant contact with our sponsors.
Our sponsors come to work with the NFL because we’re not generally in the middle of political debates.
We’re not generally being attacked by one side or the other, and that we are a unifying force.
“We believe that we are. Our business is very strong and that remains the case.”
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