The NFL is requiring all players and team personnel to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem” or the team will be fined by the league.
The league announced the anthem policy Wednesday, following nearly two years of protests started by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
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.
“The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement announcing the anthem policy. “The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honoured to work with our players to drive progress.
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case,” the commissioner said.
However, the league said it will revise the “Game Operations Manual,” to state that all players must be on the field for the playing of the anthem, and will amend it to allow for “personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.”
“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it,” Goodell said.
More to come…
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