NFL Institutes Anthem Kneeling Ban

Reuters

 

The NFL has announced a new policy regarding player protests during the nation anthem. Beginning next season, "All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem." Players will be allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

Kneeling, or any other form of demonstration deemed to be in violation of the new league policy will result in fines for the team of the player in question. While players will not be subject to initial discipline from the league, they could face fines and other punishment from their individual teams, as teams will be permitted to create their own specific anthem guidelines, within the new NFL-wide framework.

To justify the policy changes, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cited concerns that protests during the anthem gave a "false perception" that many NFL players were "unpatriotic,"  and highlighted (without naming specific efforts by the league)  "the awareness and action around issues of social justice" created by protesting NFL players and social activists - like the still-unemployed Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, who began the protest movement to shed light on the ongoing issue of police violence against African-Americans -  since the protests began.

In a subsequent press release, the NFL Players Association said the league "chose not to consult the Union" in the development of the new anthem policy, and that the new rule "contradicts" prior statements from Goodell and the NFL Management Council.

The rule changes were voted on unanimously by NFL owners, with the exception of San Francisco 49ers owned Jed York, who abstained from voting.