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NFL, players union put national-anthem policy on hold

Bears players link arms during the national anthem before their game against the Steelers on Sunday. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times)

The NFL and the players union agreed to hit pause on the league’s controversial national-anthem policy Thursday, hours after the Associated Press learned that the Dolphins’ player-conduct rules allowed the team to fine or suspend protesting players.

“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue,” the sides said in a joint statement. “In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy.

“No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”

Word leaked earlier Thursday that the Dolphins organization considered protesting during the national anthem “conduct detrimental to the team,” reserving the right to punish players with anything from a fine to a suspension.


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The NFL announced in May that it would fine teams if players on the field didn’t stand during the national anthem. The league said it was up to the teams to punish individual players, if they decided to at all.

The Bears don’t publish their fine schedules, a team spokesman said Thursday. Coach Matt Nagy addressed the media before the Dolphins’ document leak but will speak again Friday.

Last month, Bears chairman George McCaskey said he had spoken with team president Ted Phillips and team union rep Sam Acho about how the Bears would handle discipline but wanted to learn more before making a decision.

“I want to give that some thought and talk to them some more about it,” he said. “I’d rather proceed with continuing that dialogue and what we hope is a climate of trust.’’