Just as we started to turn our focus to things happening on the gridiron as this phase of OTAs continues, we’re forced to shift our attention elsewhere as the owners of the NFL’s 32 franchises unanimously approved a new national anthem policy.
Here is the full statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
Statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pic.twitter.com/1Vn7orTo1R
— NFL (@NFL) May 23, 2018
This new policy gives players an option to stay in the locker room during the anthem, but requires players who head to the sideline for the anthem to stand while it is played. Players who don’t stand on the sideline during the anthem are now subject to fines. That would include signs of protest such as the kneeling done by quarterback Colin Kaepernick and former teammate (and fellow free agent) safety Eric Reid.
So while the NFL might promote this new policy as some sort of compromise, it doesn’t really fit the dictionary definition of the word.
And because the players didn’t seem to get their say in before this policy was enacted, the NFLPA issued a statement in response that calls out the commissioner for being contradictory:
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 23, 2018
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah expanded on the statement, via ESPN NFL writer Dan Graziano:
“We were not consulted ahead of this meeting on any potential changes to the anthem policy. If there are changes to the policy that put players in a position where they could be disciplined or fined, we are going to do what we always do – fight anything that encroaches on players’ rights to the end.”
So much for “compromise.”
The league’s new anthem policy brings a non-issue back into an unflattering light that once again pits the players against the owners – and well ahead of its next Collective Bargaining Agreement, too.