BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — After a controversial season with players protesting during the national anthem, the NFL has adopted a new policy on how to handle those who don’t stand for the anthem during the upcoming season.
- 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.
“We’re all American and we’re all required to salute the flag,” said football fan Phil Carruthers.
NFL owners approved the policy Wednesday that allows players to protest during the national anthem by staying in the locker room but forbids them from sitting or taking a knee if they’re on the field.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We want people to stand, that’s all personnel and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. We think that we’ve come up with a balanced process here and a procedure and policy.”
Teams in violation will be fined, which some local fans support.
“I don’t believe that they should have the option to kneel,” one fan said.
The kneeling began with quarterback Colin Kaepernick who did so to protest police brutality throughout the nation. Fellow teammates and players joined in by kneeling themselves, linking arms, or raising fists to show solidarity.
Teammates Kaepernick and Eric Reid are currently suing the league and alleging that NFL teams colluded to keep them unemployed after they began protesting.
President Donald Trump weighed in last season, suggesting players who protest should be fired.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that (expletive) off the field right now. Out. He’s fired,” the president said.
That sparked even more protest, including a demonstration before the Ravens and Jaguars game in London.
Some on Twitter on Wednesday questioned how the rule would be enforced. If players from both teams knelt, would the penalties cancel out? And many questioned if the rule infringes on a player’s freedom of speech.
“I understand, but a little respect does not hurt,” fan Robin Rider said.
The discussion has continued for months as the league met with the Players Coalition to address their concerns back in October. The two groups agreed to a seven-year, $89 million social-justice partnership. The money will reportedly go towards criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations, and education. The meeting did not end with a resolution to the kneeling controversy.
The news comes after Trump praised NASCAR as a sport for “patriotic Americans” and noted that fans stand for the national anthem “proudly waving our flag and roaring with joy at the words, ‘Start your engines.'”
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