Well, that didn’t take very long.
The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association released a joint statement on Thursday announcing that the recently introduced ban on national anthem protests has been suspended pending further discussions between the sides.
The NFL was hoping to squash the ongoing controversy, started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, of (mostly) black players kneeling, sitting, or raising a fist during the national anthem to protest police brutality and ongoing inequality towards minorities across the country. Critics quickly attempted to twist the protest into being “anti-American” or “they hate the military,” which was helped along by the tweets of a certain White House resident.
In response, the league attempted to unilaterally impose new rules, requiring every player to stand respectfully for the anthem or stay in the locker rooms. Teams would be fined if players violated the rule. The teams themselves could then impose punishment on individual players if they so choose, with a recent leaking of the Miami Dolphins team policies document listing anthem protests as a punishable offense, starting with fines and going all the way up to a four-game suspension.
But forget all that, because it’s not happening now:
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) July 20, 2018
When the new anthem rules were first announced, the NFLPA announced they were seeking legal counsel and considering filing a grievance against the league. Under the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players, most new rules need be collectively bargained into place, and not unilaterally created and enforced.
Some players had already announced they intended to continue protesting, regardless of the fines or punishments.