NFL owners approved new rules today to try to deal with the National Anthem protests that got heavy attention from the world and criticism from President Donsld Trump. Players will no longer be required to stand on the sidelines during the Anthem, they can stay in the locker room instead. Players who do take the field during the Anthem shall show respect to the flag and Anthem according to the new policy. Teams can also be fined if players or personnel don't stand and show respect on the sidelines. The new policy allows teams to make their own rules for players who choose not to stand while on the sidelines during the Anthem.
By late morning, Goodell finally moved the discussion to the protests. It was a “special privileged session,” with only owners plus one adviser allowed. Snyder spoke first. He said that there were real business issues at stake, and he mentioned that in his market, the defense industry and other sponsors were angry about the protests. He didn’t put any dollars on it. To many in the room, Snyder’s speech felt like an opening act for the headlining band.
After Snyder sat down, Jones stood and left no question that it was his floor. “I’m the ranking owner here,” he said.
At first, some in the room admired Jones’ pure bravado, the mix of folksy politician and visionary salesman he has perfected. But he was angry. He said the owners had to take the business impact seriously, as the league was threatened by a polarizing issue it couldn’t contain or control. To some in the room, it was clear Jones was trying to build momentum for an anthem mandate resolution, and in the words of one owner, “he brought up a lot of fair points.” Jones believed he was one of the few showing any urgency on the matter and seemed to be more frustrated that not everybody was listening than he was passionate about the mandate.
As Jones spoke, Snyder mumbled out loud, “See, Jones gets it -- 96 percent of Americans are for guys standing,” a claim some dismissed as a grand overstatement. McNair, a multimillion-dollar Trump campaign contributor, spoke next, echoing many of the same business concerns. “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair said.
You can read NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's statement below.
STATEMENT FROM NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
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.
The NFLPA issued a statement in response to the NFL's new policy: