NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday that teams will be fined if any of their players decide to protest during the national anthem while they’re on the field
The NFL was slammed by several prominent voices within pro football on Wednesday after commissioner Roger Goodell touted a new policy aimed at ending the controversial protests during the national anthem by threatening teams with fines.
Not only did the NFL Players Association accuse the league of failing to adhere to the collective bargaining agreement, but several owners weighed in on the side of players who wish to protest inequality and police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem.
The NFL’s new rule, announced Wednesday in Atlanta, permits entire teams and individual players to choose to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but calls for franchises to be fined for any mode of disrespect. The teams have the option of fining players who do anything deemed disrespectful while on the field when the anthem is being played.
Since 2009, the NFL had required all team personnel be on the field during the anthem.
New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson did vote did vote with the majority of owners on Wednesday, but that does not mean he will stop players from protesting.
Chris Johnson (center) said he will not fine any Jets players for protesting during the anthem
Johnson said he plans to meet with coach Todd Bowles to discuss a plan for the 2018 season
Instead, Johnson said the Jets will cover any fines the league levies against them but will not respond by fining the protesting individuals.
‘I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,’ Johnson told Newsday. ‘If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.
‘Do I prefer that they stand? Of course,’ he continued. ‘But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.’
Johnson plans to huddle with Jets coach Todd Bowles and the team’s players at his first opportunity.
Johnson’s older brother Woody is the team’s owner and a supporter of President Donald Trump, who has been very critical of protesting players. Woody Johnson now serves as the U.S. ambassador to the U.K.
The NFL Players Association responded to the new rule on Wednesday afternoon
‘Even without those fines, this is going to be tough on the players, and I want a chance to speak with the coaches and other players to get feedback on this policy and to build on the good work and momentum that we have built up on these issues of social justice, on legislation, and all the things that we can do,’ he said.
49ers owner Jed York did not vote on Wednesday because he felt players and officials were not included in the decision
Another owner, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, said he abstained from an otherwise unanimous vote on the final day of the owner’s meetings because he felt players and officials should have direct input on the matter.
In October, he said he supported players – including former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid – and their right to protest.
‘We encourage [players] to stand, but we’re not requiring you to do anything,’ he said. ‘You can express yourself, but we want you to stand because you want to stand. … And we want to make our country and our communities a better place – not because you’re forcing us to, but because we’re compelled to.’
The controversy began two years ago when Kaepernick sat during the national anthem before a preseason game. He has remained a free agent since March of 2017 and is suing the league for allegedly colluding against him in retaliation for his political stance.
Steelers owner Art Rooney said teams could be fined if players hold a fist over their head or lock arms during the anthem. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said there is no fine schedule for anthem-related penalties and that owners will know disrespect ‘when we see it.’
The controversial issue exploded two years ago after then-San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (center) refused to stand to protest inequality and police brutality
NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL’S STATEMENT
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell believes the league’s new policy will put the focus back on the game and alleviate the controversy over the player protests
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.
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.