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NFL seeks to outlaw kneeling in new league policy

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A new NFL policy announced Wednesday seeks to outlaw kneeling during performances of the national anthem at games, following a national controversy involving President Trump that overshadowed the last football season. 

Team owners voted at the league’s spring meeting in Atlanta to allow the NFL commissioner to impose “appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” the policy says, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta.

If players disobey the policy, their teams will be fined. 


While players and personnel on the field will be required to stand for the national anthem, the new policy will also allow players to choose to remain in their locker rooms or other off-field locations until the anthem concludes.

“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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Wednesday after all 32 team owners approved the policy change, according to ESPN

The decision came after months of deliberations among owners after a number of players began kneeling on the field, originally for social justice causes and then in solidarity with other team members taking criticism for the protests.

Trump first publicly criticized the demonstrations during his 2016 presidential campaign, associating them with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He then renewed his criticism throughout the last football season.

The NFL Players Association, which negotiates player salaries, has vowed to challenge the new policy, which it says violates its collective bargaining agreement with the league and contradicts past statements by Goodell, who has not advocated punishment for players who protest.

However, ESPN reported that the new policy is not up for collective bargaining because it is an official change to the game operations manual.  

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