Last year, multiple NFL players’ behavior during the national anthem and flag presentation started a national conversation. Today, the NFL unveiled a new policy statement regarding rules for players and team personnel during the playing of the anthem: all of its athletes and staff “shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem” if they’re on the field. Players who do not choose to stand for the anthem before games will have the option of staying in the locker room.
“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,” the league said in its new policy.
A club will be fined if players or league personnel are on the field and do not stand “and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”
“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,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” Goodell added. “We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
The NFL Players Association issued a statement after the new rule was announced.
“The NFL chose not to 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,” the statement added.