Kneeling NFL Players Could Be Punished Under New League Rules

It still remains unclear why a protest that takes place before the game would get penalized during the game.



NFL players could be subjected to a fine if they continue to kneel in silent protest during the national anthem, according to new rules just passed by the league.

Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Wednesday outlining changes to how the NFL would treat players who kneeled during the anthem. Among the changes, players would be allowed to stay in the locker room if they didn’t wish to participate in standing for the anthem. All personnel on the field, however, would be expected to stand.

There could be consequences for refusing to do so, Goodell wrote.

“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,” according to Goodell’s statement. He added that “[e]ach club may develop its own work rules” regarding players not standing, and that he himself could “impose appropriate discipline” on those who do not stand.

The NFL Players Association, the union for all NFL players in the league, tweeted out its own message, expressing dismay with the commissioner’s and league owners’ decision.

“The NFL chose not to consult the union in the development of this new 'policy,'” their statement read. The NFLPA further elaborated that the players they represented were patriotic — including those who kneeled to highlight racial disparities in America.

“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,” they said.

They also added that, “"[o]ur union will review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement."

The NFL took the wrong approach to the issue of players kneeling on the field. What players like Colin Kaepernick and others want is an actual conversation on the unfair treatment of people of color in America. By “hiding away” individuals who wish to highlight that mistreatment, the NFL has shown cowardice, not leadership, on the topic.

Apparently, National Football League (NFL) owners want to silence the players who peacefully protest against racism and policy brutality in the country.

A meeting between the owners in Atlanta, Georgia, reportedly kicked off with a lengthy discussion on how to respond to players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

The owners remained in search for a solution for the protest initiated by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 after he took the knee to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the country – and it soon became a nationally divisive issue.

As reported by the Sports Illustrated, the NFL owners mulled over the possibility of imposing a 15-yard penalty on teams whose players protest during the anthem.

The suggestion was to leave it to the home team to decide whether both teams would be on the field for the anthem or remain in their respective locker rooms. If the team chooses to come out and any of its player kneel, then the entire team would be assessed a 15-yard penalty.

However, it still remains unclear why a protest that takes place before the game would get penalized during the game.

Many players, including professional football players, high school athletes, and professional athletes in other sports, have followed Kaepernick’s lead to peacefully protest in order to generate a conversation about the injustices the country is plagued with.

Many sports journalists took to Twitter to denounce the league’s controversial proposal.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the players who choose to peacefully protest by kneeling during “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Last year, as a part of his attack on the NFL players, he said the league is “hemorrhaging.”

“Can you believe that the disrespect for our Country, our Flag, our Anthem continues without penalty to the players,” Trump tweeted. “The Commissioner has lost control of the hemorrhaging league. Players are the boss!”

The commander-in-chief’s suggestion to fire the protesting NFL players sparked a feud between Trump and the athletes, who then began kneeling in unity during the games.

It is not for the first time the league is seeking actions against the protesting players. Colin Kaepernick and footballer Eric Reid are currently free agents. In fact, the two even sued the NFL, alleging the teams conspired to keep them unemployed.

No matter what the final verdict is, the truth is, it is not fair to punish players for exercising their constitutional right to free speech. Also, considering a surge in incidents of police brutality, it just makes sense for national figures, such as NFL players, to use their platform to raise their voice.

“I'm not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color... To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” said Kaepernick.

Banner Image Credits: Reuters

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