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NFL Owners Vote to Fine Teams for Players Kneeling During National Anthem, Mike Pence Celebrates: ‘#Winning’

In a statement released Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that next season, if and when any player kneels during the National Anthem, that player’s team will be fined.

Goodell’s statement talks about players appearing unpatriotic, while praising them as patriotic, and states that kneeling during the anthem will not be allowed, while — on the other hand — saying that the protests have “sparked awareness”.

The statement in full:

The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.

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.

We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it—and on our fans who enjoy it.

It’s a tough call whether this statement is simply threading the needle or doing the lambada with it. Along with Goodell’s statement, the guidelines of the policy were included, and you can read those at the bottom of this article.

At least one person is thrilled by the news: Vice President Mike Pence, who last year famously walked out of a 49ers game after a kneeling protest. He penned this celebratory tweet:

That screenshot has CNN referring to the NFL’s new policy as a “stunning victory for President Trump.”

On the other hand, the NFL Players Association was not at all happy. The NFLPA released a response saying the new policy contradicts what they’ve been told about “the principles, values and patriotism of our League.”

“NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism” was an inspired bit of public relations that takes some wind out of Goodell’s faint praise sails.

Typically of Goodell’s reign, this hasn’t been handled smoothly. But the NFL clearly did have to do something. The kneeling has been a PR nightmare for teams and alienated many fans. Note the saluting in the stands and kneeling on the field in the photo above.

Below is the specific policy outline, via the NFL.

POLICY STATEMENT

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.  The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.

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.

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