The rules for standing, or not standing, for the national anthem at NFL games may be changing.
The NFL has set a new policy Wednesday saying that players are allowed to stay in their locker rooms for the anthem, but if they are on the field, they must "show the anthem and flag 'appropriate respect.' "
He says teams can set their own rules for such a policy, but that teams would be fined if players on the field for the anthem do not show "appropriate respect."
The following was released by the NFL Wednesday in a statement:
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 NFL Players' Association says the league refused to consult the union about the new policy, and they may consider legal challenges to it.
Such a move is similar, but not exactly like the NBA requirement that every team and every player stand for the national anthem. There was some talk about instituting a 15-yard penalty for teams that violate the home team anthem policies, one that does not appear to be ready to be instituted.
The controversy over the anthem started during a 2016 Packers-49ers preseason game in which Milwaukee native and then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the anthem as a protest against oppression of African-Americans and other minorities. Numerous other NFL players have taken part in such protests.
That controversy escalated to the highest levels when President Donald Trump asked NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the anthem in September of 2017.
Numerous owners have expressed desire for a demand for players to stand, while other top team executives including Packers president Mark Murphy have offered support for players "to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed numerous times during the controversy that while he strongly encouraged players last year to stand for the anthem, he did not require it.
The league did not require players to stay on the field and outside the locker room for the anthem until 2009. Years later, it was found the Department of Defense was paying for various patriotic displays in numerous sports leagues including the NFL.
WTMJ has reached out to the Green Bay Packers for comment on this story. In the meantime, team president Mark Murphy spoke to NFL.com's Tom Pelissero.
#Packers CEO Mark Murphy told me the national anthem policy “was put together with the thought it would stand up to scrutiny” under CBA, etc. I asked how much owners considered that protesting players didn’t feel they were disrespecting the flag or anthem in the first place. pic.twitter.com/n08jsZMu5f— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 23, 2018