The NFL adopted a new policy today to address the issue of kneeling during the national anthem.
Players will now be given the option of staying off the field during the anthem, but will face fines if they are on the field and do not stand.
Here’s a portion of the statement from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:
“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.”
Here is the full statement from the league, outlining the changes:
More info from ESPN:
The new policy is an adjustment to the NFL’s game operations manual and thus does not need to be collectively bargained.
“We were not consulted ahead of this meeting on any potential changes to the anthem policy,” NFL Players Association assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah said in a statement. “If there are changes to the policy that put players in a position where they could be disciplined or fined, we are going to do what we always do — fight anything that encroaches on players’ rights to the end.”
There’s some vague language in the policy statement, RE: the “show respect” line. Malcolm Jenkins, for instance, stands for the anthem but raises his fist. Others lock arms. We’ll see how players and coaches respond to the news in the coming days/weeks/months.