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Players from the Kansas City Chiefs taking a knee. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

NFL players, owners, and executives held a confidential meeting at league headquarters last October to address President Trump's attacks against the league in the wake of player protests — instigated by quarterback Colin Kaepernick — against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, per The New York Times.

Why it matters: A recording of the meeting, obtained by the Times, shows that owners were deeply worried about the impact that the protests might have on the economic future of the league, pressuring players to put an end to the situation as quickly as possible.

A big quote: New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who is a supporter and friend of Trump, addressed the impact of the protests:

“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America. It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”

Getting direct: Houston Texas owner Bob McNair addressed the players in the room directly, asking them to spread the word to end the protests in order to ward off Trump's attacks against the league:

"You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you.”

Between the lines: The players in the room attempted to address Kaepernick's status with the league on multiple occasions, but were rebuffed by the owners and executives. Kaepernick has gone unsigned since the protests gained steam, and Eric Reid, Kaepernick's supporter and former teammate, had harsh words for the higher-ups:

“I feel like he was hung out to dry. Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us. Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”

How it ended: Per the Times, "The meeting concluded with some participants saying how positive the session had been, and how they would all keep talking." Kaepernick remains unsigned while the league clamped down on the protests — with commissioner Roger Goodell publicly announcing his desire for the number of protestors to drop to "zero" around the time of the meeting. The group did release a joint statement after its summit:

“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.”

Go deeper

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 6 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.