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.”
I hope the NFL decides to completely stop all concession stand sales during the anthem as well. We wouldn’t want people buying a $10 beer and an $8 hot dog during our sacred anthem.
All TV camera crews must stop filming and direct attention at the flag too.
Just seems fair.
— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) May 23, 2018
The NFL will fine you for kneeling, but draft you even if you’ve physically or sexually abused women. #values
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) May 23, 2018
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 23, 2018
The NFL actively engages in political speech:
-Support of the military
-Celebrating soldiers & veterans
But PUNISHES speech that tackles:
-Extra-judicial police killings
The double standards and hypocrisy is apparent.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) May 23, 2018
Things NFL players CAN STILL DO to protest the anthem without penalty:
1. Not come out of the locker room
2. Fist in the air
3. Turn your back to the flag
4. Offsetting kneeling/penalties on both sides of the field
This was a move to placate fans, advertisers, & @realDonaldTrump
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 23, 2018