UPDATE: It looks like not all owners are in support of the decision. As reported by Newsday, New York Jets Chairman Christopher Johnson says that athletes on his team who protest and are fined will have their fines paid by Johnson himself. Johnson is letting his players know that they will not face consequences from their franchise if they protest during the anthem.
The NFL is implementing a new policy that will require athletes and “team personnel” to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.” As USA Today reports, the mandate was created at a league conference in Atlanta, and also gives franchisees the “power to issue their own policies.” The NFL now has the ability to punish franchises that don’t adhere to the new rules with a fine.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shared in a statement to the press:
“We want people to be respectful to the national anthem. 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. We have been very sensitive in making sure we give players choices, but we do believe that that moment is important and one we are going to focus on.”
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell added via a written press statement. “This is not and was never the case.”
However, the NFL Players Association — the union that represents NFL athletes — is not pleased with the move; NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told ESPN that his organization was “not consulted ahead of this meeting on any potential changes to the anthem policy” and says his team will “fight anything that encroaches on players’ rights.”
Below is an official statement from the NFLPA:
“The NFL chose to not 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 … Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
You can check out the NFL’s full statement and the NFLPA’s response below.