On Wednesday, the NFL adopted a new policy regarding the national anthem at this week’s league meetings in Atlanta and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement not long after it was approved.
The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.
The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.
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.
In addition to Goodell’s statement, the league also released a policy statement on Wednesday:
NFL Policy Statement:
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. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
- 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.
In short, players are no longer required to be on the field for the national anthem. Additionally, teams can be fined by the league should any of their players participate in any kind of a perceived anthem protest while on the field. Lastly, NFL teams can create their own individual anthem policies when it comes to kinds of discipline.
On Wednesday, Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II said while it was not yet defined, he believes that raising a fist and linking arms during the playing of the anthem also would constitute disrespect of the anthem.
As you would probably expect, the NFLPA isn’t thrilled with the new national anthem policy and they have recently released a short statement pertaining to that:
NFLPA Statement on New Anthem Policy:
The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” 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.
The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.
Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the new anthem policy will be received moving forward and what kind of discussions it creates. The NFLPA is sure to push back hard and this will be yet one more thing to pay close attention when it comes to new CBA negotiations after the current one ends following the 2020 NFL season.