This past week, the NFL and the NFL Players Association issued a joint statement saying that the two sides have reached a “standstill agreement” to hold off on the implementation of the league’s new national anthem policy.
“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue,” the statement says. “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 statement came on the heels of a report from the Miami Dolphins stating that the team would punish players who protest social injustice and police brutality during the national anthem.
According to the Dolphins, players could be suspended for up to four games for breaching the league’s anthem rules. The punishment would fall under “conduct detrimental to the club.”
However, according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, the team has no intention of actually punishing players for protesting during the national anthem, citing a team source.
“The NFL required each team to submit their rules regarding the anthem before their players reported to training camp,” the Dolphins said in a statement to Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press. “We will address this issue once the season starts. All options are still open.”
In May, the NFL’s owners approved a policy for the 2018 season that allowed teams to set their own guidelines “to ensure the anthem is being respected during any on-field action,” per NFL.com’s Austin Knoblauch.
The NFL also noted that “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.”
If players disobey the policy, teams can punish players in the form of fines or suspensions.
While the national anthem policy has been in place for nearly two months, that hasn’t stopped players from saying that they will continue to protest the anthem. Former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick has been protesting since 2016, the last time he played in a game. Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey is on record saying he will protest and “take his fine.”
“I’m going to take a fine this year, why not?” Casey told CNN. “I’m going to protest during the flag. That’s what I’m going to say now.”
“There is always going to be blowback, that is what America is about. They always like to go on social media and go hard. It is what it is, at the end of the day, I don’t pay no mind to it. I’m going to do what I do that’s going to bring light to my community.”
“At the end of the day, we got to do a job, but I will continue to use my platform to keep on speaking up.”
Casey will hardly be on his own on this matter, and that is the vibe from other players around the league.
It will be interesting to see what new measures are implemented into a re-worked anthem policy, but it may not matter. The players have long been told to speak up about injustices going on. Now that they are, they are being punished for doing so. Until the situation gets under control, the players will keep protesting until they feel what is being done to help is good enough.
Good luck taking that away from them.
Featured image by Getty Images
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