NFL Quietly Changed National Anthem Policy
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The NFL Has Quietly Changed Its National Anthem Policy To Allow For Very Severe Punishments

by: Esteban On  Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Image via Getty

Image via Getty

With debate still raging over whether or not players should be allowed to kneel, sit, or raise a first during the national anthem, NFL owners like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder have decided enough is enough and have forbid their players from protesting.

On Monday, in an effort to back up Jones and Snyder, the NFL sent ESPN’s Chris Mortensen an excerpt from their secret “Game Operations Manual” that explains the official league policy regarding the national anthem.

Interestingly, as Deadspin’s Diana Moskovitz points out, the 2017 edition of this policy is quite different from the 2014 version, which we only have because it was submitted as evidence in the lawsuit over Tom Brady‘s Deflategate suspension.

Here is the 2014 version of the policy:

“During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area or respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in disciplinary action from the League office.”

Here is the 2017 version given to Mortensen:

“During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area or respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violation of the above, including first offenses.”

As you can see, the NFL has specified the possible consequences for violating its national anthem policy, and they can be pretty severe. They’ve also removed the part about discipline coming from the league, probably to give individual owners grounds to discipline their own players. However, it is unclear whether the stipulated penalties are intended to apply to violation of any part of the policy, or just the part about players being on the field for the start of the anthem.

At this time we do not know when the league updated this policy. But it seems incredibly unlikely that they did it prior to 2016, when kneeling during the national anthem became a thing.

Are we heading for a legal battle royale between the NFL and the NFLPA? Stay tuned.

Hat Tip – [Deadspin]



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