NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday that the league will be fining teams for any personnel that fail to stand for the national anthem. However, players will be allowed to stay in the locker rooms
The NFL has announced a new national anthem policy that would require all team personnel on the field to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner while allowing players to remain in the locker room.
Beginning in 2009, the NFL has required that all players be on the field during the national anthem.
Under the new rules, teams will be fined if any personnel fails to show what the league determines to be appropriate respect for the anthem. The teams are then free to fine their own personnel, including players, for failing to stand for the anthem. So while some teams could have a policy requiring everyone on the field to stand, other franchises could choose to pay the league fines while allowing their players to demonstrate during The Star-Spangled Banner.
‘This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,’ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. ‘Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.’
The decision would put individual teams at the forefront of the ongoing controversy surrounding the peaceful demonstrations, which are aimed at raising awareness about inequality and police brutality against minorities.
According to an ESPN report, the idea had the support of ‘at least 24 owners.’
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
Currently, NFL regulations say that players ‘should’ stand for The Star-Spangled Banner
‘It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,’ Goodell said. ‘This is not and was never the case.’
Initially, the NFL Players Association did not seem receptive to the policy changes.
‘Maybe this new rule proposal that is being voted on is a ‘compromise’ between the NFL office and club CEOs on various sides of the issue, but certainly not with player leadership,’ wrote NFLPA spokesman George Atallah. ‘We weren’t there or part of the discussions.’
Currently, NFL regulations say that players ‘should’ stand for The Star-Spangled Banner.
The issue exploded into a national debating point the past two seasons. Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem as a form of social protest beginning in 2016, and other players followed.
The NFL Players Association was quick to point out that they were not consulted on the matter
Last year, President Donald Trump ripped players who refused to stand for the anthem, and he called on the NFL to sanction those players who didn’t stand.
‘We have all the interests in every constituency that’s involved here,’ Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday. ‘We recognize that with our visibility and the interest themselves, it’s taken on a life of its own. With all of that, we have to be measured.
‘We tell the world, ‘Look at us. Don’t turn your head. Look at us. Wait a minute. Look at the NFL, look at what we’re doing.’ And we understand that when you have some issues, we’ve asked you to look, now, so let’s do as good as we can do.’
Jones, New York Giants owner John Mara, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson told USA Today Sports that talks about the subject were to continue into Wednesday.
Mara told ESPN he thought a consensus could be reached.
Detroit Lions president Ron Wood told the Detroit Free Press, ‘My preference would be to find a solution that works for everybody and it’s done at a league level, so we’ll see what happens the next couple days.’
Jones said Tuesday night, ‘I don’t want to assess where we are tonight. We’ll resume tomorrow. I wouldn’t assess right now.’
Jones and the Cowboys were on the front lines of the controversy in September, after Trump called protesting players ‘sons of b******’ during a rally in Alabama.
Before their ensuing game, the Cowboys and Jones decided to kneel together on the field before rising as one for the entirety of the national anthem.
However, Trump made no reference to that distinction when tweeting about the incident the next morning: The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was the loudest I have ever heard. Great anger.’
Prior to a game in September, the Dallas Cowboys took a knee before rising as a team to stand for the national anthem. Since then, owner Jerry Jones has vocally opposed the protests
Although the Cowboys were actually standing for the anthem, President Donald Trump still used the opportunity to suggest that fans were booing the team’s decision to kneel together
Since then, Jones said his players ‘will always stand’ for the national anthem.
Jones pointed to concern about sponsors being turned off by anthem protests.
Kaepernick has not played since 2016 and filed a collusion case against NFL owners alleging a concerted effort was made to keep him out of football. Former teammate Eric Reid, a safety with the 49ers and unrestricted free agent, is following suit.
Reid, who joined Kaepernick in kneeling to bring attention to social injustice, visited only one team – the Cincinnati Bengals – and was asked if he would continue to kneel during the anthem by team ownership.
Kaepernick had a visit scheduled with the Seattle Seahawks – the only team to host Kaepernick in 2017 – but it was postponed because management wanted greater clarity on Kaepernick’s intentions during pregame.
NFL games remain among the most watched programming on television, but ratings took another significant dip during the 2017 regular season amidst the controversial protests.
President Donald Trump congratulated NASCAR on its attitude toward the anthem
The average audience was 14.9 million viewers per game, down 9.7 percent from 16.5 million viewers in the 2016 regular season, according to Nielsen. The 2016 viewership was down eight percent from the previous year.
However, NBC’s Sunday Night Football remained the season’s ratings king for the seventh straight year, according to Nielsen. That beats the previous record set by Fox’s ‘American Idol’ between 2005-06 and 2010-11.
The Sunday Night football games averaged 18.2 million TV viewers in 2017, a 29 percent margin over the runner-up: CBS’s ‘Thursday Night Football’
On Monday, when welcoming stock car driver Martin Truex Jr. and his team to the White House, Trump again raised the topic of anthem protests.
‘One thing I love about NASCAR is they do indeed stand for the playing of the National Anthem. They do indeed,’ Trump said.
‘Somebody said “maybe you shouldn’t say that, it’ll be controversial” and I said “that’s okay, NASCAR’s not going to mind it at all.” Right fellas? They don’t mind it at all,’ Trump added.
Despite the President’s enthusiasm for NASCAR and its attitude towards the national anthem, the sport’s ratings have plummeted around 28 percent over the last two years, according to Forbes.
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.