The issue that has hung over the NFL since last fall, vexing league leaders and team owners as they sought a means to extricate the sport from a polarizing national debate, did not dissipate in May as the owners hoped when they ratified a new national anthem policy.
The enactment of that policy is now on hold as part of an agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, buying time for the league to attempt to work out a mutually agreeable resolution with the players union before the start of the season.
Those deliberations begin with the goal of the owners unchanged from May: According to multiple people familiar with the owners thinking, there remains strong sentiment among them that they want players to stand for the anthem, by agreement if possible rather than via a unilaterally imposed policy.
If the owners plan to seek the players agreement to stand for the anthem before games, what is not known is what the rest of that conversation entails.
Players enter the deliberations with a desire to revert to the anthem policy that was in place before the May change.