49ers not ob­li­gated to stand for U.S. an­them

The Province - - SPORTS - — The As­so­ci­ated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Fran­cisco 49ers won’t be forc­ing their play­ers to stand dur­ing the U.S. na­tional an­them, safety Eric Reid said Wed­nes­day.

Reid, the first player to join Colin Kaeper­nick in protest last sea­son, said he had a con­ver­sa­tion re­cently with 49ers CEO Jed York, who in­di­cated he will con­tinue to sup­port his play­ers if they de­cide to kneel dur­ing the an­them to protest so­cial in­jus­tice.

“He’s ex­pressed very clearly that he wants to sup­port us, that he’s not go­ing to force us to do any­thing,” Reid said. “Speak­ing for our team, that’s what he’s told me ex­plic­itly.”

At its fall meet­ings next week, the NFL will dis­cuss the an­them is­sue. NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell wrote in a memo cir­cu­lated to league ex­ec­u­tives that the an­them topic is di­vid­ing the league from its fans, and the league needs to move be­yond the con­tro­versy.

Reid, 25, is the 49ers’ player rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the union. The play­ers’ union and league on Wed­nes­day re­leased a joint state­ment say­ing NFLPA lead­ers would at­tend the own­ers’ meet­ings next week in New York.

The league man­ual says play­ers should stand dur­ing the an­them. Reid said he be­lieved any change would have to be col­lec­tively bar­gained.

More than 20 49ers knelt dur­ing the an­them at their last two games, while team­mates stood be­hind them with hands on their shoul­ders. That was in re­ac­tion to U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s con­dem­na­tion at a rally last month of any player that didn’t stand. Trump called for own­ers to re­lease play­ers who did not stand.

U.S. Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence at­tended San Fran­cisco’s game Sun­day in In­di­anapo­lis and walked out af­ter those 49ers knelt, tweet­ing, “I will not dig­nify any event that dis­re­spects our sol­diers, our flag or our na­tional an­them.”

Dal­las Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones, one of the NFL’s most in­flu­en­tial voices, re­cently said all play­ers on his team will stand or won’t play.

“I know this, we can­not … in the NFL in any way give the im­pli­ca­tion that we tol­er­ate dis­re­spect­ing the flag,” Jones said Sun­day af­ter a loss to the Green Bay Pack­ers.

“We know that there is a se­ri­ous de­bate in this coun­try about those is­sues, but there is no ques­tion in my mind that the Na­tional Foot­ball League and the Dal­las Cow­boys are go­ing to stand up for the flag, so we’re clear.”

Jones said a re­cent phone con­ver­sa­tion with Trump in­cluded the pres­i­dent say­ing there was an NFL rule forc­ing play­ers to stand. The league has no such rule and it says it does not plan to pun­ish play­ers for tak­ing a knee.


San Fran­cisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, left, seen kneel­ing with for­mer team­mate Colin Kaeper­nick dur­ing the U.S. na­tional an­them last sea­son, says the 49ers have the bless­ing of the team’s CEO to protest by kneel­ing dur­ing the an­them if so in­clined.

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