The NFL, under pressure from fans and owners like Jerry Jones, is considering banning protests during the National Anthem, according to a report by the Washington Post.
According to the Post story by Mark Maske, if the protests continue to the end of the season, the NFL will require players to stay in the locker room until the anthem has finished, effectively banning them from taking the field and protesting.
The plan has the support of a number of owners, who would likely have to vote it in as official policy.
Some NFL owners believe there is a strong possibility they will enact an offseason change to the league’s national anthem policy if players’ protests during the anthem persist through the end of this season, reverting to a previous approach of keeping players in the locker room while the anthem is played, according to several people familiar with the league’s inner workings.
“I think that if players are still kneeling at the end of the year, then it could very well happen,” said one person familiar with the owners’ deliberations on anthem-related issues.
That person said it was “too early to tell” for certain if the change to the anthem policy will be made by owners and the league. The person was “not sure” if a formal vote of the owners would be required to enact such a change but said, “I think most owners would support it, particularly if players continue to kneel this season.”
Those sentiments were echoed by several others with knowledge of the owners’ thinking on the matter. They said they did not know at this point exactly how many owners would favor such an approach, and they cautioned that there have been no detailed discussions yet about leaving teams and players in the locker room for the anthem because owners did not consider it appropriate to make an in-season change to the policy.
But they agreed that if the protests last all season and remain intensely controversial among fans, the issue will be raised during the offseason and a policy change to having players remain in the locker room until the anthem’s conclusion would have the support of a significant number of owners. They said the matter could be addressed at the annual league meeting in March.
“It would certainly have to be considered very strongly,” said an official with an NFL franchise who is familiar with the thinking of that team’s owner on the matter.
The NFL declined to comment.
We will update this story as details become available.