After being under fire for the last two seasons for players protesting the national anthem, the NFL decided to mandate what players and team personnel can and can’t do during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The NFL’s proposed new national anthem policy, which was announced Wednesday by league commissioner Roger Goodell during the NFL’s spring meeting in Atlanta, gives players and team personnel a choice to either stand for the anthem out of respect for the flag or wait in the locker room for the anthem to be finished.
The new policy was unanimously adopted by the teams and those who do not oblige will receive a fine from the league.
Goodell also holds the right to impose “appropriate discipline” for those who don’t stand and “show respect” for the flag and anthem, according to the new policy.
“We want people to stand,” Goodell said. “We do believe that moment is important to focus on.”
The anthem protests have been quiet gestures stemming from Colin Kaepernick’s protest in 2016. The former 49ers quarterback took a knee to protest against police violence, specifically against African-Americans and people of color.
Many other NFL players have decided to join the movement last season by taking a knee or sitting for the anthem, including Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack, Eagles lineman Michael Bennett and Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane.
The protests received a lot of attention and even reached the White House. President Donald Trump continuously criticized players and teams for disrespecting the flag by kneeling during the anthem last season. He also went so far as to call on the league to suspend a player after he knelt during the anthem.
The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.
Here’s a list of the six principles for the NFL national anthem policy, per the NFL:
1. All teams and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and anthem.
2. The game operations manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and do not stand show respect for the flag and the anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles regarding its personnel who don’t stand and show respect for the flag and anthem.
6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and anthem.
Contributing: Associated Press