- Christian Petersen/Getty Images
- The NFL has a new national-anthem policy and it appears that the league caved to the demands of President Donald Trump and those who vilified the ongoing protests of players against police brutality and racial inequality in the justice system.
- The new policy makes clear that all players should stand for the anthem, that those who wished not to could remain in the locker room, and teams with players who “did not show proper respect for the flag and Anthem” would be fined.
- The NFL Players Association said that they had not been consulted about the new policy, and would be ready to challenge any aspect of it that was inconsistent with their collective bargaining agreement.
The NFL approved a new national-anthem policy on Wednesday in response to ongoing player protests that took over the 2017 season, and the league appears to have caved to the wishes of President Donald Trump and others who stressed the importance of “respecting the flag.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out the expected details of the policy.
Highlights of the NFL's expected new anthem policy: pic.twitter.com/a62Im2S5Ac
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 23, 2018
Colin Kaepernick garnered national attention for his protests two seasons ago, kneeling during the anthem to bring attention to issues including police brutality and racial inequality in the justice system. While Kaepernick was out of the league in 2017, protests of a similar nature became more common across the NFL, with players including Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch taking part.
The storm around the league began after Trump suggested that players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired. Teams responded with shows of unity the next Sunday, with more players taking part in the protests than ever before.
But with the details of the new policy now public, it looks as though the league has capitulated to the demands of Trump and others who disagreed with players demonstrating on the field in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the justice system.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted about the rule change with the caption “#Winning” in a post that was quickly retweeted by the official @POTUS account.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 23, 2018
Across Twitter, others expressed the feeling that the league was giving in to the president’s wishes.
Five NFL owners, Snyder, McNair, Kroenke, Kraft, Khan and Johnson, donated $1M each to Trump's inauguration. Trump blasted the league over players kneeling. A policy on the anthem is inherently political, and it's about appeasement.
— Jane McManus (@janesports) May 23, 2018
A statement from NFL Commissioner Donald Trump pic.twitter.com/NrQVrvgVL7
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) May 23, 2018
The NFL has been cowed by Trump
— Erin McPike (@ErinMcPike) May 23, 2018
The NFL Player’s Association also issued a statement in response to the news, saying that they had not been consulted on the matter and would review the new policy and be ready to challenge any aspect that they viewed as “inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 23, 2018
The new policy doesn’t ensure that players will stand during the anthem, and should they kneel, the fines given to the offending player’s team will no doubt generate yet another cycle of news surrounding the matter. Additionally, the NFLPA doesn’t seem shy about the possibility of challenging the new policy, which could bring more unwelcome attention to the league despite their effort to downplay any anthem-related controversy.
But for now, the NFL has its new policy in place, and it makes rather clear whose side the league is on.