NFL's national anthem policy will punish teams if players don't stand on sidelines

NFL owners passed a resolution on Wednesday that allows players to remain in the locker room during the national anthem but those who are on the sidelines will be required to stand. Teams -- not players -- will be fined for any actions deemed disrespectful.

In a statement, commissioner Roger Goodell said, "all league and team personnel shall stand," and added, "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." 

You can read the entire statement here. It reads in part:

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed.

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.

This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.

The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. 

Goodell also outlined the new anthem-policy rules as agreed upon by the owners:

The membership also strongly believes that:

1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the 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 and 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 do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

In response, the NFLPA released its own statement:

The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new "policy." NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

Our union will review the new "policy" and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.

NFL Network's Judy Battista called it a "compromise," though the players would almost certainly disagree. As does the NFLPA's George Atallah.

The protests were never about "disrespecting" the anthem, a point made repeatedly last season. The protests were about drawing attention to social inequality, which was the reason Colin Kaepernick protested during the anthem for the first time in August 2016.

In October, in the wake of constant criticism from President Trump and pressure for the NFL to mandate players stand for the anthem, then-Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said he would continue to sit during the anthem and added that any negotiation between the league and its players as it relates to the anthem should happen only after an NFL team signs Kaepernick who, depending on who you ask, has been blackballed for his decision to kneel during the anthem last season. 

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In related news, the NFL is currently in the middle of a collusion case brought by Kaepernick.

And while some owners have sided with the players' right to protest, other owners know that the anthem issue is a political hot potato and one that angered many fans last season. In fact, during the owners meetings last October, Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN the Magazine reported that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told his colleagues that they needed to seriously consider the impact the anthem issue was having on the league's bottom line, and to some in the room Jones was building toward an mandate that would require players to stand during the anthem, similar to the NBA's rule.

Around that time, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all 32 teams.

"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem," he wrote. "It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players." 

By late November, the NFL had agreed to donate $89 million over seven years to "address social issues considered important to African-American communities." Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who served as the unofficial spokesman for the Players Coalition, a group of players who negotiated directly with the league office on these issues, wrote at the time that, "What the NFL has done is a good first step – it's not going to solve the massive problems we have in our cities and states across this country, but it's a start."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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