Kevin Seifert and Dan Graziano, ESPN, May 23, 2018
NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer, it was announced Wednesday.
The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem. That includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Those teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.
All 32 owners approved the policy, which will be part of the NFL’s game operations manual and thus not subject to collective bargaining. The NFL Players Association said in a statement that it will review the policy and “challenge any aspect” that is inconsistent with the CBA.
San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, however, said he abstained from Wednesday’s vote on the new policy. He didn’t say he opposed the policy, nor would reveal if any other team abstained.
Earlier this week, the league finalized an $89 million social justice platform with players to help address “some of the underlying issues” that were under protest, said Mark Murphy, the Green Bay Packers’ president/CEO.