President Donald Trump backed an NFL rule change Wednesday that bans kneeling during the national anthem and hits violators with fines.
However, the president — who instigated the new policy with his withering rebuke of players refusing to stand during the tribute to America — said the measure doesn’t go far enough.
‘I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms,’ he told Fox & Friends in a pre-taped interview that aired on Thursday’s program. ‘You shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.’
President Donald Trump backed an NFL rule change Wednesday that bans kneeling during the national anthem and hits violators with fines
The NFL issued a new national anthem policy on Wednesday in response to Trump’s criticisms that requires all team personnel on the field to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner or be fined.
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
‘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.’
Teams that incur fines as a result of the acts of civil disobedience have the option to pass them on directly to players or personnel who prompted the fee.
The New York Jets became the first team to take a position on the new policy, with chairman Christopher Johnson saying management would pick up the tab for players who kneel during the national anthem —a form of protest against police brutality against African Americans.
‘I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,’ Johnson told Newsday. ‘If somebody 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.’
The president — who instigated the new policy with his withering rebuke of players refusing to stand during the tribute to America — said the measure doesn’t go far enough
Johnson said his preference is that players stand for the national anthem.
‘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,’ he said. ‘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.’
In 2009, the NFL required all players be on the field during the national anthem.
Under the new rules, teams will be fined for any personnel on the field who fail to show what the league determines to be appropriate respect for the anthem.
Teams are then free to fine their own personnel, including players, for protesting.
While some teams could require everyone on the field to stand, other franchises could choose to pay the league fines.
The decision puts individual teams at the forefront of the ongoing controversy surrounding the peaceful demonstrations that are aimed at raising awareness about inequality and police brutality against minorities.
The NFL Players Association vowed to review the policy change and determine whether it violates players’ collective bargaining rights.
‘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.’
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
An official NFLPA statement on Wednesday afternoon said: ‘The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy,”‘ read the statement. ‘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.
‘Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.’
Trump, for his part, said NFL owners ‘did the right thing’ during an interview with Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade after a Wednesday event in Bethpage, New York.
‘Well, I think that’s good. I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it’s good,’ he said. ‘You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.’
President Trump declined to take credit for the new policy that he inspired with his frequent complaints last season about players who refuse to stand for the anthem.
‘I think the people pushed it forward; this was not me,’ he said. ‘I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward. This country is very smart; we have very smart people.’
Trump said the protests are ‘something ideally could have been taken care of when it first started, it would have been a lot easier.’
‘But if they did that, they did the right thing,’ he said of the just-announced NFL position.
The president’s legislative affairs director clarified Thursday morning on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s program that Trump was not suggesting the government take action against players when he said they shouldn’t be in the U.S. if they don’t stand for the anthem.
Marc Short also noted in the interview that Trump did not use the vote to take a victory lap.
‘He said no, this is a victory for the American people. And as certainly someone who loves the NFL and watches as many games as I can, I think I agree,’ the senior White House official said. ‘This is the reality, is what the American people wanted, is what the fans wanted. And that’s why the owners made the change, is because they were understanding that this is hurting their fan base.’
Goodell, in the statement announcing the outcome of the vote, on Wednesday said, ‘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,’ the NFL commissioner stated.
The NFL Players Association was quick to point out that they were not consulted on the matter
The protests exploded into a national conversation even before Trump took a public position. They began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the anthem as a form of social protest beginning in 2016. Other players followed soon after.
Last year, Trump ripped players who refused to stand for the anthem, and he called on the NFL to sanction protesters.
Team owners indicated in the run-up to and after the league’s meetings in Atlanta this week that the NFL did not come to Wednesday’s decision easily.
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.
Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.
Detroit Lions president Ron Wood told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday, ‘My preference would be to find a solution that works for everybody and it’s done at a league level.’
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said prior to the vote, ‘We have all the interests in every constituency that’s involved here.
‘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.’
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.
Trump said 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.’
Since then, Jones, who consulted with the president in a phone call, said his players ‘will always stand’ for the national anthem. In part, Jones explained, because was concerned that the protests were turning off existing and potential sponsors.
After their call, Trump said he believed fans would issue teams with kneeling players an ultimatum.
‘In my opinion, the NFL has to change. Or you know what’s going to happen. Their business is going to go to hell,’ Trump said.
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
JETS CHAIRMAN WON’T FINE PLAYERS FOR KNEELING DURING THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER
By Alex Raskin, Sports News Editor for DailyMail.com
The NFL was slammed by several prominent voices within the 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.
Chris Johnson (center) will not fine his players for protesting during the 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.
Instead, Johnson said the Jets will cover any fines the league levies against them but will not respond by then 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.’
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.
Both Eric Reid (right) and Colin Kaepernick (center) have sued the NFL owners for collusion, accusing the league of retaliating against them for their peaceful demonstrations
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 him in 2017 — but it was postponed because management wanted greater clarity on the player’s intentions during pregame activities.
NFL games remain among the most watched programming on television, but ratings took a significant dip during the 2017 regular season amidst the controversial protests.
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, while welcoming stock car driver Martin Truex Jr. and his team to the White House, Trump had 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 at the event.
‘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 roughly 28 percent over the last two years, according to Forbes.
The NFL Players Association responded Wednesday afternoon
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.