NFL announces new fine for players who “take a knee,” players push back
The National Football League has just approved a policy that requires players on the field to stand for the national anthem. Players who do not wish to stand must stay in the locker room until the anthem is finished. Their respective teams will be fined if players do not abide by the new policy.
NFL owners voted 31-0 to ratify the measure. The San Francisco 49ers abstained from the vote.
The San Francisco 49ers became a central player in this debate when their former quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, knelt during the national anthem all throughout the 2016 season to protest police brutality. He sparked subsequent “take a knee” protests throughout the league and nationwide conversations about social injustices.
Roger Goodwell, the NFL commissioner, said of the new policy, “Our objective as a league is that we want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion.”
Jets chairman Christopher Johnson has stated that individual team players on his team will not face repercussions for any protest. He told Newsday, “I do not like imposing any club-specific rules. If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest.”
He continues, “There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”
The NFL Players Association, NFLPA, said, “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.”
Craig Melvin of the Today Show reported that players were devising new ways to protest.
“I talked to a former NFL player yesterday who has said that players are already talking about other ways in which they can protest.” @craigmelvin talks response to new NFL policy pic.twitter.com/opgMKznkUC
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 24, 2018
What I'm hearing from players: Those who weren't planning demonstrations for next season are now back in the conversation, discussing ways to skirt to new rules "just to spite the NFL."
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) May 23, 2018