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NFL creates new policy to deal with anthem protests

The National Football League Players Association released a statement of its own critical of the implementation of the new policy. It reads:

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

UPDATE: 12:17 p.m.  — The NFL announced its new policy regarding protests of the national anthem accompanied by a statement from commissioner Roger Goodell.

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In the statement, Goodell said, “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 statement continued. “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.”

The new anthem policy is as follows:

  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.

ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:47 a.m. — In a busy start to the NFL owners meetings in Atlanta, the league approved new rules for the kickoff Tuesday and continued discussions about what can be done about players who kneel during the national anthem.

“We certainly want to make and will make a thought-out, deliberate decision,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the Associated Press. “Whatever we do, let’s put the focus on what the NFL’s about and that’s playing football.”

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Among the measures being discussed are assessing a 15-yard penalty against any player who kneels or otherwise protests during the national anthem. The league also is looking at changing the pregame routine, allowing teams to stay in the locker room until after the anthem is played.

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The new kickoff rules, which were first proposed a couple of weeks ago when Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons was part of paneldiscussing options to make the play safer, include eliminating wedge blocks, prohibiting running starts for the kicking team, aligning eight of the 11 players on the return team in a 15-yard zone near midfield and mandating a touchback any time the ball hits the ground in the end zone.

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