The NFL adopted a new National Anthem policy today. Here is a statement from commissioner Roger Goodell as well as the new plan set forth by the league:
“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our 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.
“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.
“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.
“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it—and on our fans who enjoy it.”
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.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been on the record in saying that he would not play a player if they knelt during the national anthem.
However, at this point, there is not a policy forbidding players in the NFL from kneeling during the national anthem.
Here is a joint statement from NFL-NFLPA today about the national anthem:
“Commissioner Roger Goodell reached out to NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith today and both he and player leadership will attend the League meetings next week. There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem. The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized. Everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these issues in a civil and constructive way.”
It seems that free agent QB Colin Kaepernick has started a movement, and it’s spreading. We saw Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett kneel during the anthem this preseason. Also, we saw the Malcolm Jenkins put his fist in the air during the anthem.
Tonight, in Cleveland, 11 Browns’ players knelt during the anthem before their preseason game against the Giants.
Browns head coach Hue Jackson said the following last week about his players kneeling during the anthem: “I would hope that we don’t have those issues,”
According to ESPN, the following players took a knee:
Tight end Seth DeValve, running backs Duke Johnson Jr. and Terrence Magee, safeties Jabrill Peppers and Calvin Pryor, cornerback Jamar Taylor, receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, linebackers Chris Kirksey and Jamie Collins, and running back Isaiah Crowell (who was not in uniform).
The following players stood nearby:
Britton Colquitt (who also had his hand on his heart), cornerback Jason McCourty, quarterback DeShone Kizer, defensive tackle Trevon Coley and offensive tackle Shon Coleman.
Here is what the Browns’ organization said in a statement on Monday:
“As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country’s National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country including the freedom of personal expression.”
Woah. A ton of Browns kneeling during the national anthem here pic.twitter.com/Qv6qSPs6kX
— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) August 22, 2017
According to an ESPN report, Colin Kaepernick will be standing during the national anthem next season. Kaepernick, who kneeled during national anthem for all 16 games, is expected to opt out of his contract with the 49ers.
Call me cynical, but I believe this is a byproduct of Kaepernick trying to prove to other teams that he is not going to be a distraction. How much has truly changed since he started taking a knee? Maybe a little, but definitely not enough.