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New NFL Policy Will Fine Teams if Players Kneel During Anthem, But There’s a Catch

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Wednesday that NFL owners had approved a new policy to fine teams if any player or personnel on the field during the national anthem refuses to stand.

The catch though is that the NFL is removing the requirement that all players and personnel are required to be on the field during the national anthem. Players will now be allowed to stay in the locker room, a move the NFL is making to appear still supportive of NFL player protests.

“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 choices.”

ESPN explained the new policy will be part of the NFL’s “game operations manual” and thus is not open to collective bargaining.

The NFL Player’s Association released a statement on Twitter saying, “The vote by NFL club CEO’s 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 NFL released a statement on Twitter accompanying the new policy announcement that expressed a desire to find a compromise and to continue their “collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.”

“The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress,” the statement continued.

The NFL also addressed and dismissed the notion that the players’ protests were unpatriotic.

“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case,” said the NFL.

Earlier in the week, the NFL announced an $89 million agreement with players to fund a social justice platform. The Undefeated reported, “The NFL would join forces with the Players Coalition, the main group of players who protested during the national anthem to shine a light on racial injustice, and become the first major sports league to partner with its players to effect social justice change.”

The issue of standing for the national anthem became a national debate when in protest of racial discrimination Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the anthem in 2016. Fellow San Francisco 49ers teammate, Eric Reid, became the second player to take a knee during the anthem. Both players were unable to find jobs on NFL teams the following season despite having, many argue, starting role talents and career statistics.

Reid and Kaepernick are now both suing the NFL for colluding to keep them unemployed due to their protest activities. Bleacher Report revealed internal team documents relating to the case show that Kaepernick was viewed as not only good enough to play in the NFL but good enough to start.

Reaction to the NFL’s announcement today has been mixed. San Francisco team owner, Jed York, who last employed Reid and Kaepernick said he abstained from the league vote.

NY Jet’s chairman Christopher Johnson told Newsday that he would pay any fines imposed on the team for players or personnel that choose to stay on the field but exercise their right to protest by kneeling during the anthem.

“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. 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. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

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Lauren von Bernuth

Lauren is one of the co-founders of Citizen Truth. She graduated with a degree in Political Economy from Tulane University. She spent the following years backpacking around the world and starting a green business in the health and wellness industry. She found her way back to politics and discovered a passion for journalism dedicated to finding the truth.

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  1. MAAT May 23, 2018

    And there are also other issues & it’s the continuous use of protests,w/justified causes,by some,to… https://t.co/PJWDXihE8q

  2. Lauren von Bernuth May 23, 2018

    Why does a protest have to be interpreted as something that divides people? Or are you saying some p… https://t.co/HAO6UGRFbb

  3. Joseph Mangano May 24, 2018

    Don’t know if you saw Chris Long’s (Philadelphia Eagles DE) comments on the matter, but I agree wholeheartedly. Really a bad look for the NFL. https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/chris-long-issues-scorching-statement-ripping-nfl-anthem-rule/ar-AAxIlkA?ocid=spartanntp

    1. Lauren von Bernuth May 24, 2018

      I was looking for player’s comments on the new policy but couldn’t find any. Thanks for sharing. Chris Long has been pretty progressive which is great. Rightly or wrongly, the NFL was really kind of screwed either way. I don’t know if this is the NFL’s response to a Trump threat or trying to placate both sides out of concern for their bottom line. Maybe they’ve only made it worse and it would have been smarter to just adopt a non-policy and let teams handle it on their own. I personally don’t believe in forcing people to stand for the anthem, America was built on a right to protest. It’s funny as I was looking for quotes about pledging allegiance to symbols the good ol’ American Pledge of Allegiance kept popping up and I couldn’t believe that we were made to recite that every day in school… the one or two oddball kids who refused to stand and recite it were way ahead of their time!!!

  4. Anonymous June 26, 2018



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