By the sound of things, I’ve attended several homeowner association meetings over the years that were run better than the NFL owners meeting in Atlanta was run earlier this week.
In case you aren’t up to speed on the things, the NFL adopted a new National Anthem policy during a meeting of league owners earlier this week and shortly afterward, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the vote related to that policy was “unanimous.” The only problem with that is that no official vote was actually conducted and Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II confirmed as much to three local beat writers on Thursday.
Steelers' Art Rooney confirmed an ESPN report that no "formal vote" was taken by the NFL voters on the new Anthem policy but that everyone had a chance to express his opinion.
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) May 24, 2018
According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday, Rooney confirmed an ESPN Thursday report that stated there was no “formal vote” taken by the NFL owners on the new Anthem policy, “but that everyone had a chance to express his opinion.”
Rooney talked about the policy after the meeting was over as well.
“As has been said, I think we have spent a lot of time really, not just at this meeting, but really over the last year discussing the subject of the anthem and working with our players to try to make sure we could get to a place where all the different viewpoints could be respected,” said Rooney on Wednesday. “I think we’ve come out at a place that we as a group and the league are comfortable with. Obviously, we want to continue to work with our players and make sure that they feel that their point of view has been respected. I think the fact that those who are not comfortable standing for the anthem have the right to stay off the field. So, we’re not forcing anybody to stand who doesn’t feel that’s within the way they feel about particular subjects. But those who are on the field are going to be asked to stand. I think that we’ve listened to a lot of different viewpoints, including our fans, over the last year. And I think this policy attempts to come out in a place where we respected everybody’s point of view in this as best we could.”
So, what is and isn’t considered standing at attention during the National Anthem moving forward? Well, it sounds like the NFL still has to firm up an answer to that question and Rooney addressed the topic on Thursday, according to Bouchette.
Rooney on what it means to stand at attention for NFL personnel during the Anthem: "To me, standing at attention is not hard to figure out.'' He also said he had no problem with linking arms: "I don't think that's a sign of disrespect"
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) May 24, 2018
“To me, standing at attention is not hard to figure out,” Rooney reportedly said.
Rooney also said he has no problem with players linking arms during the anthem: “I don’t think that’s a sign of disrespect.”
As for possible future disciplines and fines for Steelers players who should somehow wind up violating the new anthem policy, it doesn’t sound like Rooney is too worried about such a thing happening.
“We’ll review the whole situation internally. I will say even if we wind up having a fine schedule here, I really don’t expect it to be an issue with this team,” Rooney said, according to Burt Lauten, the team’s Public Relations Director.
Clarification on actual quote from #Steelers President Art Rooney II: “We’ll review the whole situation internally. I will say even if we wind up having a fine schedule here, I really don’t expect it to be an issue with this team.” https://t.co/a5SNS1FekL
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) May 24, 2018
This whole thing really has turned into a bigger mess than it already was to begin with. You now have some team owners saying that they will pay and thus not pass on whatever fines the league hands down for players deemed in violation of the new anthem policy. In short, I doubt the league will be happy with what ultimately takes place in NFL stadiums as a whole moving forward. On top of everything else, the NFL has managed to madden the NFLPA even more than they already have in the past.
Not that it will likely upset any of you reading this post, but it certainly sounds like a few owners took the liberty to throw Goodell underneath the proverbial bus thanks to his unanimous vote comment on Wednesday.