NFL Won't Stand for Players Not Standing During National Anthem

Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys kneels before a game at AT&T Stadium

NFL owners approved a new policy on Wednesday that requires players and league personnel on the sideline to stand for the national anthem but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they desire.

In a statement, commissioner Roger Goodell said, "all league and team personnel shall stand", and added, "It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic".

That led to a league-wide protest where more than 200 players either refused to stand for the anthem or stayed in the locker room. Teams responded with shows of unity the next Sunday, with more players taking part in the protests than ever before. As we've said publicly as well as in conversations with our team and other constituents, we want all members of our organization to stand for the National Anthem. "We want people to stand - that's all personnel - and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion".

"Last fall was hard, I think, for all of us within the league", Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy said.

That may have been the case, but one owner, 49ers CEO Jed York, abstained from the vote, telling reporters afterward that he wanted to discuss the issue further with the players and that he was considering halting concession sales during the anthem ceremony.

In Oakland, running back Marshawn Lynch waged a stealth, and mysterious, protest of his own last season.

Under current National Football League regulations, all players are required to be on the field during the anthem. Since the new policy is a change in the terms and conditions of employment that was not collectively bargained, any attempts to fine individual players would surely be opposed by the union. The changes met quickly with approval from Vice President Pence and skepticism from the NFL Players Association, which said it was not consulted on the changes.

"I think that's the best way to do it".

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith reacted with displeasure in a series of tweets Wednesday. "That he's not going to force us to do anything". We're not forcing anyone to stand who doesn't want to, but those who are on the field are going to be asked to stand.

With this change, the NFL's game operations manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem. Under the new rule, players who choose to be on the field during the anthem will be required to stand. The protests, which started in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem to draw awareness to issues of social inequality against minorities, became a central issue for the National Football League after President Trump criticized the movement during a speech last September, stating players should be fired for not standing.

President Trump criticized the movement during a speech last September, stating players should be "fired" for not standing.

Owners, however, had been divided on how to extricate the league from that criticism. It could have continued to address the protests and work with players to move away from what was making owners so uncomfortable.

With sinking ratings (which, frankly, probably has as much to do with bad games than People Mad Online™) and President Trump (who was more forgiving of the white supremacists that caused deadly violence in Charlottesville than Colin Kaepernick) riling up the masses, the league is frightened as hell and is willing to to squash any kind of free expression even if it means siding with a wave of backlash that's heavily steeped in racism. Newsday reports that he also collaborated with former Jets player, Demario Davis, to advocate for social justice issues and criminal justice reform.

Goodell said that the vote was unanimous.

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