New NFL pol­icy ad­dresses Na­tional An­them protests

South Florida Times - - SPORTS - By As­so­ci­ated Press Coun­cil John Mara (co-owner of the NewYork Gi­ants) about the prin­ci­ples, val­ues and pa­tri­o­tism of our League.”

PAUL NEWBERRY

AT­LANTA - NFL own­ers ap­proved a new pol­icy Thurs­day aimed at ad­dress­ing the firestorm over na­tional an­them protests, per­mit­ting play­ers to stay in the locker room dur­ing the “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner” but re­quir­ing them to stand if they come to the field.

Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell said the change was ap­proved unan­i­mously by the own­ers at their spring meet­ing in At­lanta, but it was met with im­me­di­ate skep­ti­cism by the play­ers’ union.

“We want peo­ple to be re­spect­ful of the na­tional an­them. We want peo­ple to stand,” Good­ell said. “That’s all per­son­nel, and to make sure they treat this mo­ment in a re­spect­ful fash­ion. That’s some­thing that we think we owe. We’ve been very sen­si­tive on mak­ing sure that we give play­ers choices, but we do be­lieve that mo­ment is an im­por­tant mo­ment and one that we are go­ing to fo­cus on.”

In a sign that play­ers were not part of the dis­cus­sions, any vi­o­la­tions of the pol­icy would re­sult in fines against the team — not the play­ers.

The NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion said it will chal­lenge any part of the new pol­icy that vi­o­lates the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment. The own­ers spent sev­eral hours ad­dress­ing the con­tentious is­sue — which has reached all the way to the White House.

For­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick be­gan kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them in 2016, a quiet but pow­er­ful protest against po­lice bru­tal­ity and racial in­equities in the jus­tice sys­tem.

Other play­ers took up the cause, and the ges­ture car­ried on dur­ing the 2017 sea­son even af­ter Kaeper­nick left the 49ers and failed to land a job with an­other team.

Pres­i­dent Trump turned the an­them protests into a cam­paign is­sue, say­ing the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee dur­ing “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner.” The NFL hasn’t gone that far, but Kaeper­nick has yet to land an­other job and one of his for­mer team­mates and fel­low pro­test­ers, safety Eric Reid, is also out of work.

Both have filed col­lu­sion griev­ances against the NFL.

While the own­ers touted the change as a com­pro­mise and noted it was ap­proved unan­i­mously, the play­ers’ union made it clear it was not part of the dis­cus­sions.

“The NFL chose to not con­sult the union in the de­vel­op­ment of this new ‘pol­icy,’” the NFLPA said in a state­ment. “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 state­ment added,“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

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF RED LET­TER CHRIS­TIANS

KNEEL NO MORE: Colin Kaeper­nick kneel­ing dur­ing the Na­tional An­them. The NFL's new pol­icy will not al­low play­ers to kneel dur­ing the an­them.

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