National Football League owners plan to meet next week to consider changes to a game manual that says players "should" stand during the national anthem. Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas said he hopes the owners will decide to hold a league-wide summit to help resolve the intensifying topic.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told club executives in a memo this week that the anthem issue is dividing the league from its fans. However, Thomas said it is an issue that "has to be talked about" in order for change to occur.
"You know, this started off as something small and all of a sudden it's gotten really big and now that you have President No. 45 all into it and the Vice President walking out of games, I think it's gonna get huger," Thomas said, talking with reporters Wednesday. "You can't sit up here and tell these players, I know everybody talks about, 'Well, they're making millions. They should be just be quiet, shut up and sit down,' that's not gonna happen. I think this coming Sunday, you're gonna see, continue to see, a lot of players kneeling and, for me, it's something I'm looking forward to."
Thomas said, as a former player, he has been watching the controversy change this season from the original protest against "police brutality and racial injustice." However the issue is eventually resolved, the former Buffalo Bill said he is "behind the players 100 percent."
"As players - former players and the players in the field - you know, they have a long way to go to really continue what they're protesting about," Thomas said. "I think we need to look at what has happened over the last couple of weeks, the narrative has kinda changed a little bit. Now it's more about the military, the flag and the anthem instead of really what Colin Kaepernick started protesting about last year."
Thomas said he hopes the league and players come to an agreement, but he does not think "anyone knows right now" how the issue will be resolved - but the nation must "do things differently."
"Even though things have not looked well over the last couple of weeks, you know, from the players being booed to the Vice President walking out of a game this past Sunday, hopefully, you know, things can turn around," he said. "I think everyone wants everything to turn around, but I think in the back of everybody's minds - especially the players that started the protest with the kneeling - you know, we want to see progress with what's been happening with African Americans across the country."
On Thursday, Thomas took to Facebook to continue the conversation: