A new NFL policy announced today effectively ends protests by players during the National Anthem.
After two NFL seasons of players kneeling during the anthem to protest “racial inequality” and “police brutality,” ratings have plummeted and fans are boycotting. Veterans groups were outraged and in some instances, local police departments refused to provide security at games.
At the NFL owners meeting this week, the league has finally cracked down on the practice, setting new policies that will punish teams whose players protest.
It appears the new policy will not include penalties assessed against team during a game. Sports Illustrated reported this week on the possibility of a 15-yard penalty being assessed if a player kneels, but that proposal appears to have been rejected.
The NFL announced on Wednesday that it has adopted a policy that would fine a club if teammates and league personnel did not “stand show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in a statement that the policy was approved “in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country.”
The policy read: “the 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice.”
This new approach will be league-wide policy, not a set of suggestions for teams to follow.
The requirements for the policy stated:
*”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 off 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 policy comes in wake of the protests that were started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The NFL Players Association was quick to speak out and condemn the new policy, arguing that players should be able to kneel on the field during the anthem.
“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy,’” the union announced in a statement. “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.”