The National Football League struck a blow Wednesday to a National Anthem protest that has roiled the nation for almost two years — ever since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to not stand in honor of our country and its military.
The ongoing demonstrations against alleged police brutality in America have created a division between those protesting and those believing that our nation’s symbol deserves respect. It’s put the NFL in a tough spot as they have tried to have it both ways, attempting to pacify both the protesters and patriotic fans.
For the most part, they’ve sided with players by allowing them to sit down, kneel, raise their fists, or fail to show up in the field during the singing of the national anthem and the presentation of the flag. All that changed on Wednesday.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the NFL released the following policy:
- 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 of 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.
The league made it clear that they feel these new rules still allow protesters to send a message by allowing them to not show up for the anthem. The new policy will be put in place for the upcoming season, the Washington Post reported.
President Trump retweeted Vice President Mike Pence's reply.
Conservatives were quick to respond to the news. Not all of them were entirely happy with the wording of the policy.
The NFL Players Association was not happy at all. They released a statement saying that they were not consulted about the new policy and felt that it opposed protesters’ ability to show “their patriotism through their social activism,” according to ABC News.