Under the league's new national anthem policy, the NFL will fine teams if their players refuse to "stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem" while allowing teams to decide how to discipline their own players for any infractions. On Thursday, reports emerged on how the Miami Dolphins could discipline players for engaging in protests during the anthem.
According to reports, the Dolphins' discipline schedule, a policy that must be submitted to the league office each year, lists anthem protests under "conduct detrimental to the club" alongside other items such as riding motorcycles and making disparaging comments about teammates, coaches, officials or the commissioner. If a player commits conduct deemed detrimental to the team, he is open to a fine and/or a suspension of up to four games.
According to ESPN's Jeff Darlington, the Dolphins have "not finalized any objective discipline measures" and likely won't actually suspend protesting players four games.
Sources with Dolphins and NFL say Miami merely submitted annual discipline schedule, as required by league at dates set in conjunction with camp. Dolphins are among first to report for camp. They have not finalized any objective discipline measures for protesting during Anthem.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) July 19, 2018
Dolphins submitted the same discipline schedule that all other teams will also submit, outlining what could be considered conduct detrimental to the club. It declares vague maximums. I’m told this is NOT a public declaration of intentions to suspend for protests during anthem.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) July 19, 2018
One thing that should be made abundantly clear: Dolphins source says the team has no intention of suspending a player for four games based on any type of anthem protest. They don’t know if/how they’ll discipline — but nobody internally believes four games is even close.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) July 19, 2018
The Miami Herald's Adam Beasley reported that the Dolphins were required to submit their anthem policy to the league before reporting to training camp.
From a Dolphins source: "The NFL required each team to submit their rules regarding the anthem before reporting for training camp. Since the rookies reported on Wednesday, [the Dolphins] had to have a policy in place." (cont.)— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) July 19, 2018
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported that the Dolphins only added the anthem protests to a long list of things that are classified under "conduct detrimental" to the team.
I’m told the Dolphins simply put the anthem policy on the books under conduct detrimental. Other things fall into that category: Curfew, punctuality, motorcycles. NFL policy says conduct detrimental punishable UP TO four-game suspension. Not that it’ll necessarily be that severe.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 19, 2018
In other words, what is noteworthy here is that the Dolphins have added protesting during the national anthem to their list of conduct detrimental to the team, which the Associated Press first reported. As teams across the league get set to open up training camp, it'll be worth monitoring if they proceed down a similar route that the Dolphins took. New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said after the league's anthem policy passed that he doesn't like "imposing any club-specific rules" and the team
Meanwhile, in March, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told the New York Daily News, "All of our players will be standing." Ross later walked back those comments, telling the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued."
According to the AP, Dolphins team officials did not immediately comment on Thursday's leak, while the NFL declined to comment.
In its policy, which allows for players to stay in the locker room during the anthem, the NFL included the following point: "Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
Just last week, the NFL Players Association filed asaying that the policy "infringes on player rights."