NFL owners approved a new national anthem policy Wednesday that gives individual teams the authority to set their own anthem-related rules and permits players to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.
The league has attempted to strike a careful balance among several constituencies, including more hard-line owners such as Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Robert McNair of the Texans, who have demanded that players stand, and more liberal owners including Jeffrey Lurie of the Super Bowl champion Eagles and Jets chairman Christopher Johnson, who have not stood in the way of player protests during the anthem. "We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society".
Players who have demonstrated during the anthem have done so in an attempt to draw attention to social justice issues in the United States. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. "And I think the more that we can get that message out and understand what they're fighting for and why they're fighting for it, the easier that it's gonna be to make progress".
Some NFL players knelt during the anthem to protest police shootings of unarmed black men, sparking a controversy as Trump criticized the players as being unpatriotic. "This is not and was never the case", Goodell said.
The NFL previous year rejected Trump's calls to punish players who protest, but said the league's players "should" stand during the anthem.
The measure mandates that players who are on the field must stand for the national anthem but can remain in the locker room if they choose.
Responses to the protests during the 2017 season included dueling boycotts (from fans who don't like players protesting, and from others who don't like how teams treated Kaepernick); threats to strip the New Orleans Saints team of its tax breaks; and the decision by the founder of the Papa John's pizza chain, a longtime National Football League advertiser, to step down as CEO after saying the National Football League had hurt his business by not resolving what he called a "debacle". Players around the league soon followed suit, sparking national debate.
The change will remove existing regulations that require all footballers to be on the field for the anthem.
"Our union will review the new "policy" and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement", the union said.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the league would assess 15-yard penalties to teams whose players protested on the sidelines. He has filed a grievance against the league, saying the owners colluded to keep him from being signed.
The storm around the league began after Trump suggested that players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired. The protests continued last season after being started during the 2016 season by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers.