It doesn’t seem as though the controversy surrounding the NFL’s attempts to install a new policy regarding conduct during the pre-game performance of the national anthem is going away any time soon. You’ve no doubt heard of the most recent issues surrounding it, so let’s provide a brief recap.
Back in May, after the league approved the new policy, the NFLPA said that it would do everything within its authority to assure that it and its enforcement would not violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
They ultimately filed a grievance on July 10. A short time after that, it was reported that the Miami Dolphins had submitted their team policy on the anthem, which listed protesting as conduct detrimental to the club, which could come with a suspension of up to four games.
A source from the Dolphins later said that teams were asked to submit a team policy prior to reporting to training camp, and Miami’s training camp is already underway, which is how it was learned about in the first place.
After that story came out, however, the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement noting that they were in discussions “working on a resolution to the anthem issue” and that “we have come to a standstill agreement” that “no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing”.
That is necessarily a very vague period of time, so it is unknown when the league’s anthem policy and its enforcement will actually come into effect. The first preseason game will take place on August 2, and it doesn’t sound as though that falls outside of the range of ‘several’ weeks. Will there be a resolution in time for the regular season?
According to Michael Silver, “it is unrealistic that any player would be suspended four games for kneeling during the anthem if the policy was enforced”, Austin Knoblauch credited him as reporting via an article on the league’s website.
The NFLPA’s primary complaint regarding the league’s anthem policy was that they felt it was created and voted on without the direct input of the Players Association or its players, or in good faith with respect to the contents of the CBA.
Whatever sort of resolution comes about between the two parties as a result of these ‘confidential’ discussions obviously remains to be seen. Is it possible that the policy could be altered, or perhaps even removed entirely? It’s hard to say.
While this current dialogue is one that frankly should have taken place before the policy was voted on—as evidenced by the fact that it’s taking place now—it is better that it happens now rather than never.
It’s just perpetuating a major non-football topic, and I think we can all agree that we would rather not have political issues to discuss. Because it’s out there, however, and a major subject, it would be a disservice if we were not to relay the information to you.