It appears the NFL has finally decided how to put an end to the anthem protests.
According to the NFL, “The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem. That includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Those teams also will have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.”
This policy replaces official language that NFL players “should” stand during the national anthem. The rule change is a major shift in policy and a strong statement from the NFL owners, although there was not an “official” vote. Instead, the league polled the owners and then released the decision as “unanimous” according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell added “”We want people to stand, that’s all personnel, and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
The “choices” that Goodell referred to are the ability for players who wish to kneel for the anthem to stay in the locker room until the pregame ceremonies are over.
The League may have finally found the language to suppress the protests, but the wound that has been created is far from healed.
This major change in NFL policy apparently took place without any representation from the players who. The NFLPA says they were not consulted about the rule change at all, and quickly released a statement.
“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.”
Obviously, this story wouldn’t be complete without commentary from the POTUS. Just like the NFL had hoped, he found a way to separate the two sides even further.
"You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem. You shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe they shouldn't be in the country…the NFL owners did the right thing" -President @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/bt36t4EX5u
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 24, 2018
Moreover, this NFL season will once again be saturated with a controversy that has nothing to do with player performance and will instead be remembered regarding the inability of league officials to work together and get back to football.