By: Ryan Mayer
The NFL owners have been working throughout the past several days to attempt to figure out what to do (if anything) about players protesting during the national anthem. On Wednesday, they announced a new policy that will require all players and personnel that are on the field during the anthem to stand while the anthem is played. However, the NFL also removed the requirement from the Game Operations Manual that required players to be on the field for the anthem.
“I think that we’ve listened to a lot of different viewpoints including our fans over the last year and I think this policy attempts to come out at a place where we respected everybody’s point of view in this as best we could,” Steelers President Art Rooney II said.
Below is the full policy and you can read the commissioner’s statement here.
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:
- All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
- The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
So, under the new policy, players would no longer be required to be on the field during the national anthem. If they are, and they choose to protest in any way, their team will be subject to fines. Teams also have the ability to impose their own fines for players.
According to the ESPN, since this policy is part of the league’s game operations manual, it is not subject to negotiation with the player’s association. However, that doesn’t mean the NFLPA is necessarily going to accept the decision. NFLPA spokesman George Atallah issued a statement to ESPN saying the following.
“We were not consulted ahead of this meeting on any potential changes to the anthem policy. If there are changes to the policy that put players in a position where they could be disciplined or fined, we are going to do what we always do – fight anything that encroaches on players’ rights to the end.”
The new policy is different from one that was reportedly discussed yesterday into the early morning hours today in which 15-yard penalties would be handed out to players who kneeled during the anthem.