In an update from an earlier report that the NFL owners would attempt to “fix” the issue of some of their players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against minorities, league commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Wednesday afternoon that unveiled a new league-wide policy.
In short, the league now demands that all players and team personnel (coaches, trainers, etc…) stand for the national anthem. If they refuse, they are allowed to remain in the locker room (or somewhere else out of sight) until the anthem is over. The league will impose fines on any team that does not abide by these new regulations.
Here is the full policy from Goodell’s statement:
The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
The NFL is characterizing this as a “compromise,” but they have enacted these rules without any input or consideration from the Players’ Association. You can bet that the union will have something to say about these new regulations, and a potential court battle could be in the future. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that no one can be forced to display patriotism against their will.
Here’s NFLPA executive George Atallah chiming in early on the matter:
Maybe this new rule proposal that is being voted on is a "compromise" between the NFL office and club CEOs on various sides of the issue, but certainly not with player leadership; we weren't there or part of the discussions.
— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) May 23, 2018
We’re not sure this “fixes” anything, really. It still feels like a bunch of rich, white men trying to tell a (predominantly black) group of players to sit down and be quiet, or else there will be problems.
The NFLPA has released a statement on the new rules, promising to challenge the “policy” if they find it inconsistent with the current CBA.
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 23, 2018