NFL announces rules requiring players to stand for anthem
The NFL wants to put its national anthem controversy to bed.
What started in 2016 with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling in
protest during the national anthem, eventually spreading to other teams and
players, has created a rift among NFL fans—a rift not likely to be healed
by the league’s decision.
The protests—an outgrowth of the #BlackLivesMatter movement—were intended to highlight the mistreatment and deaths of
African-Americans in the U.S. at the hands of police.
Team owners voted this week to require players to stand during the anthem
or stay in the locker room.
USA Today reported:
Amid repeated protests during the playing of the national anthem over the
past two seasons, the NFL on Wednesday passed a revised policy that
mandates players and team personnel present on the sideline “shall stand
and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
The revision allows players who would not wish to stand to remain in the
locker room. Also under the revision, each franchise will have the power to
issue their own policies, which could include fines for players protesting
the anthem, under the conduct detrimental provision of the league’s
personal conduct policy
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Now the league is set for a showdown with players who might continue to
The NFL Players Association has already taken issue with the policy, which
was reached without the union present.
“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new
‘policy,’” the NFLPA said in a statement. “NFL players have shown their
patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in
support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests
to raise awareness about the issues they care about.
“The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our
player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the
NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and
patriotism of our League.”
The move also threatens to antagonize players who were not actively
protesting but silently supported those who chose to kneel.
One player, a seventh-year veteran who was currently an unsigned free
agent, said he had never knelt during a game before but was a quiet
supporter of Kaepernick’s message and freedom of speech. The other two,
fourth- and sixth-year veterans, also had not been active kneeling
participants but said they were irritated or confused by the league’s
recent policy change.
“They didn’t first talk to [the NFLPA], which makes me think they just want
to push us around,” Player A, the fourth-year vet, said.
Added Player B, the sixth-year vet who has been an active participant in
NFLPA matters in the past: “I am not sure if they have to do that, but
what’s the harm in talking to the union before making this a rule?”
Goodell defended the vote.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” commissioner
Roger Goodell said. “We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and
make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something
we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players
Goodell said the vote was “unanimous” among owners, although San Francisco
49ers owner Jed York said he abstained.
The New York Jets’ front office was vocal in standing behind players’ right
Jets chairman Christopher Johnson told Newsday on Wednesday that his
players are free to take a knee or perform some other protest without fear
of repercussion from the team. …
“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said. … “Do I
prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need
to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all
struggling with, and our players are on the front lines.”
In September 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump
criticized Kaepernick and other players kneeling in protest. He has called for
pushback against those players ever since.
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem,” Trump said in an
interview on Fox & Friends. “The NFL owners did the right
Players who don’t stand, the president said, “maybe” shouldn’t be allowed
to play and “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Some see the league’s move as detrimental to the idea of a national anthem
The irony of the NFL owners’ action is that *they have now hyper-politicized the anthem, for not just every black player and ally, but every potential anthem singer or Super Bowl halftime performer. That few minutes before a game will now look like a forced nationalistic display.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) May 23, 2018
Some players are already speaking out:
Chris Long says the NFL’s new anthem policy isn’t about patriotism. pic.twitter.com/AazD4hvbWz
— SB Nation (@SBNation) May 24, 2018
Others hope the move will depoliticize their weekend pastime:
I can’t believe I’m saying this but the NFL owners got it right. NFL owners made a business decision. Anthem protests were turning off the fans, so the owners stopped them. Can we get back to football now?
— Angelo Cataldi (@AngeloCataldi) May 24, 2018
What do you think of the NFL’s announcement and the various responses, PR Daily readers?