NFL discussing steps to deal with protests


Associated Press

ATLANTA

The NFL approved a new owner for the Carolina Panthers, passed a rule to eject players who hit with their helmets, and took steps to spice up the kickoff.

Still to be resolved: a much more contentious issue.

What to do, if anything, about players who kneel during the national anthem?

“We recognize with our visibility and the interest itself that it’s taken a life of its own,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

“We ask the world, ‘Don’t turn your head. Look at us. Wait a minute. Look at the NFL. Look at everything we’re doing.’ And then when we have some issues we’ve got to work through, we realize we’ve asked you to look.

“Let’s do as good as we can do.”

At their annual spring meeting, league owners welcomed David Tepper to their ranks by signing off on his record $2.2 billion deal to purchase the Panthers from disgraced team founder Jerry Richardson, who abruptly decided to sell after the NFL began investigating alleged sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.

During a brief news conference in which he took only a handful of questions, Tepper immediately made a bit of news by seeming to imply he would be willing to listen to offers for a new stadium from other cities in North and South Carolina. The team has made no secret of its desire to replace 22-year-old Bank of America Stadium, and its lease runs only through 2018.

But Tepper also reiterated several times that the largest city in the Carolinas is the “logical place for this team.”

Tepper’s purchase was the first order of business at the luxury hotel in Atlanta’s tony Buckhead neighborhood.

That was the easy part.

As a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tepper was already familiar to the league’s owners and his approval was a mere formality. The vote was unanimous.

Anthem protests are a much thornier issue.

“We certainly want to make and will make a thought-out, deliberate decision,” said Jones, who has made it clear he opposes kneeling during the anthem and was one of the few people to speak with reporters in the hotel lobby after the meeting broke up. “Whatever we do, let’s put the focus on what the NFL’s about and that’s playing football.”

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