NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to all 32 teams on Tuesday in a bid to end the controversy surrounding player protests during the national anthem.
Goodell is looking to squash the controversy by agreeing on a uniform approach for all teams.
"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game," Goodell wrote in the memo. "We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.
"We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."
The NFL's current anthem policy states that players "should" stand for the anthem, but does not require it.
Goodell also wrote that the NFL has developed a plan to review during next week's fall league meeting in New York based on discussions with teams and players. The plan "would include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues, and that will help to promote positive change in our country," per Goodell.
President Donald Trump has called on NFL owners to fire players who do not stand for the anthem over the last month, saying their protest "disrespects the flag" and the country. Vice President Mike Pence walked out of the Indianapolis Colts' home game against San Francisco on Sunday after seeing more than 20 players from the 49ers kneeling with their hands over their hearts for the second straight week.
"I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted.
About an hour later, Trump tweeted that Pence was acting in response to his instructions.
"I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen," Trump tweeted.
"If there's anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play," Jones said after the Cowboys' 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. "Understand? We will not ... if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period."
Trump's position unified more NFL players to protest racial injustice before or during the anthem. He said during a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 22 that NFL owners should fire the players who knelt during the anthem.
"We're proud of our country. We respect our flag," Trump said to loud applause at the campaign event. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'"
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew national attention last season when he knelt during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice. A number of players followed Kaepernick's lead by taking a knee during the anthem last year.
NFL players who have demonstrated during the national anthem have said they are protesting police brutality and racism, but not the flag or the anthem itself.