Theat games in 2018, and it had drawn more than its share of criticism from players, media and fans. There are also plenty of people in support from it, particularly in terms of fans and certainly in the ownership: the proposal passed unanimously at the owners meetings.
However, it was a 31-0 vote, with one team deciding to abstain. That team was the San Francisco 49ers, with owner Jed York feeling the need to hear more from his players (or all players) before making a final decision, according to Steve Wyche of the NFL Network.
49ers owner Jed York said that he abstained from the NFL owners vote on the new anthem policy, in part, because he wanted to hear more from players. He added that he may halt concession sales at Levi’s Stadium during the playing of the anthem.— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) May 23, 2018
Several points here.
One, good for York on holding off if he did not feel comfortable with the proposal. The concept of forcing players to either be in compliance with the anthem or be absent from the anthem is a questionable one, even if it might manage to solve the NFL's biggest problem (that being any discussion about protests or the anthem in the first place).
Second, good on him for wanting to hear from the players. The union was pretty clearly miffed about the way things unfolded, and crafting a policy that pertains to players without including the players in the crafting of the policy can end up with things going sideways.
Finally, that concession thing is VERY interesting. It is difficult to ask players to stand and honor the national anthem while Joe Blow is outside pumping melted cheese onto his $15 plate of nachos during the Star-Spangled Banner. Sometimes people don't get to the stadium on time and there's a rush to get food, but if the point is to honor the anthem, it should extend to everyone in the stadium.
Desperately wish you had a 30-minutes-or-so, daily NFL podcast in your podcast app every morning by 6 a.m.? Put some Pick Six Podcast in your life and join Will Brinson as he breaks down the latest news and notes from around the league, as well as the win totals on a team-by-team schedule. It's a daily dose of football to get you right for that commute or gym trip. Subscribe: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play
It remains to be seen if this new policy will actually work and/or how it will work. Are NFL teams going to fine players who protest peacefully to get the money back from the league when the NFL fines the team with the "offender"? That won't go over well. Are players who want to engage in a peaceful demonstration simply going to stay in the tunnel/locker room?
What about the teams who value every second of preparation? Is Bill Belichick going to keep his team behind in the locker room to maximize his prep time? It would probably be the smart football move.
Will we see teams torn apart because the personalities on the roster can't manage to come to a consensus or because the players on the roster don't agree with the way the coaching staff approaches the situation?
There are a lot of unknowns about this new policy and a lot of questions that are left to be asked.