New York City, USA: The National Football League (NFL) has halted implementation of its new national anthem policy under an agreement with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
The two sides announced the deal Thursday night. The agreement also keeps the grievance filed by the NFLPA over the anthem policy, ratified by the NFL owners at their May meeting in Atlanta, from moving forward, at least temporarily.
For now, all team and league discipline will be on pause — which is probably wise — seeing as this issue remains unresolved two weeks shy of the start of the preseason.
“Everything is on hold,” said one person familiar with the situation, confirming that both implementation of the anthem policy by the league and the union’s grievance are included in that.
The league and union said in a joint written statement:
“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing. The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice. Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.”
The freeze came with the Miami Dolphins facing backlash after submitting required paperwork to the NFL that included potential disciplinary measures for player protests during the national anthem.
In May, NFL owners voted to approve a policy requiring players on the field to stand during the national anthem. Players who “do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem” are subject to a fine under the policy.
The new anthem policy leaves it up to each team whether a player would be disciplined for a protest during the anthem. The policy says that a team will be fined by the league for any protest by its players. It gives players the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem but says any player who is on the field is expected to stand for the anthem.
President Trump has repeatedly attacked NFL players who kneel during the anthem as part of a movement sparked by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protesting police brutality and racial inequality.
In August 2017, Trump stoked backlash after calling for players who did not stand for the anthem to be fired, referring to such a player as a “son of a b****.” Trump also slammed the new anthem policy earlier this month, saying that it is “worse” than allowing players to kneel.