PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster shrugged his shoulders when asked about the NFL’s new policy on national anthem protests, saying in a way, players are powerless.
Foster says: ‘If the team says, ‘this is what we’re doing,’ and ownership (does too), you either deal with it or you’re probably going to get cut. You can fight the resistance on that one but, same as we can’t smoke marijuana because it’s illegal in certain states, it’s the same issue.”
The guard says, “you have to adhere to the rules and if not, they’ll find a way to get you up out of there.”
The Steelers botched an attempt last fall to stay out of the national anthem flap by remaining in the tunnel during a game in Chicago.
Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a graduate of West Point who did three tours in Afghanistan before joining the NFL, found himself on the field when the anthem began playing and turned to face the flag. His teammates remained in the tunnel, leading to the stark image of Villanueva standing alone while his teammates remained out of sight 20 yards away.
Villanueva and the rest of the Steelers apologized for what they called a miscommunication.
Meanwhile the New York Jets say they will pay any fines and not penalize players if they violate a new NFL policy to stand or stay in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Jets owner Christopher Johnson said Wednesday the team is focused on working with players to advance social justice issues rather than creating club rules or penalties that restrict demonstrations.
NFL owners have approved a new policy aimed at ending the firestorm over national anthem protests, permitting players to stay in the locker room during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” but requiring them to stand if they come to the field.
The decision was announced Wednesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the league’s spring meeting in Atlanta.
In a sign that players were not part of the discussions, any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team – not the players. The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.
The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue – which has reached all the way to the White House.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.
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