No tangible progress made toward new anthem policy between NFL, players heading into Week 1
Many expect a continuation of the status quo with regards to protests during the anthem through the 2018 season
While there is an ongoing dialogue between players and the league office about the issue of sideline protests during the national anthem, sources said the sides are not close to resolving the issue and there were no last-minute talks on the matter prior to Sunday's full-scale regular season kickoff.
Some of the individuals involved are unsure a policy could actually be agreed upon that could placate the NFL and its union, and while the talks have been amicable and certainly productive -- as it pertains to working together towards criminal justice reform at the state and federal level -- no changes to the existing anthem policy is expected in the short term. The NFL has continued to roll back the policy owners voted through back in May, which would have allowed teams to punish players who chose not to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" but allowed them to remain in the locker room during the anthem without penalty.
The sides have been in regular contact in an attempt to exchange ideas and concepts about the protests. But the NFLPA remains fundamentally opposed to the concept of players being fined or disciplined for exercising peaceful protest and protected free speech, or agreeing to regulations for kneeling or sitting. And there remains a group of owners, sources said, who believe it is in their business interests to ensure that no players sit or kneel during the anthem and who believe punitive measures should be in place to guard against it.
Both sides agree that they should avoid saying or doing anything to further stoke emotions about that interest or bring more attention to it, and in the preseason there were fewer than five players protesting in some manner each week, though obviously that could change in Week 1 of the regular season. Regardless, it would not be surprising to many of the particulars involved if the entire 2018 season proceeded under the current state of affairs pertaining to the anthem.
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