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Hartman: The NFL tries to clean up its national anthem morass

The NFL’s new national anthem policy probably makes about as much sense as anything the league could have done after two years of being damaged both coming and going on this topic. 

No one should be required to acknowledge national symbols if they feel those symbols don’t represent them, but there is a difference between being absent and being disrespectful. 

The line there might be fine, but it is still there, and it is significant. 

RELATED: NFL announces changes to pregame rules

Allowing players to opt out of pregame ceremonies means they don’t have to compromise their beliefs and allows those who value those couple of moments to reflect and pay respect to do so as well. 

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Obviously those who choose to stay in the locker room will simultaneously be going on the record that they have something to express, and there is no doubt they will not have trouble finding anyone to ask what that might be. 

As for those whose experience was absolutely ruined by the players’ kneeling, they might be wise to look around and make sure everyone around them is paying attention and being respectful, too, but maybe that’s another story. 

All along there have surely been people who would support the players’ actions no matter what they did and people who would oppose them no matter what they did. 

RELATED: Jim Brown supports Kaepernick 100 percent but wouldn’t sit for anthem

The time that the actual act of sitting or kneeling (which was a laudable attempt at compromise) really matters expired a long time ago. 

Despite the serious flaws in the original method and the divisiveness of Colin Kaepernick’s initial explanation for sitting, the potential converts have been converted. 

The holdouts aren’t listening, and continuing to try to get a message across in the same way is senseless (as was the President’s decision to drudge it all back last year). 

The NFL has taken up many of the causes of its players, and the change in awareness, at least of those who will ever be willing to listen, has come. That doesn’t mean the causes the players are fighting for are won, but there are other battles more wise to fight because they can actually be won, too. 

That awareness also means many more people are ready, willing and able to share the story the players want to tell. 

Wasn’t that the point in the first place? 

Because if it was, arguing over how to protest seems like a pretty big waste of time. 

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