UPDATE: After the Miami Dolphins "Proper Anthem Conduct" was made public and revealed that officials could suspend players up to four games for taking a knee, the NFL pumped its brakes, so to speak, on the league's regulations against kneeling.
The league and the players association announced late Thursday that all rules related to the national anthem policy will be frozen while the two sides negotiate solutions, The Daily Beast reports.
“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing,” their joint statement read.
This postponement includes the Dolphins policy as well as the new league-wide policy that was announced in May, which determined that teams would be fined if their players didn’t stand during the national anthem while on the field.
The news of this halt is a good thing. The league should be listening to its players and working with them instead of against them. After all, these players are protesting the injustices that their communities are affected by day in and day out. They're using their voices to improve society, and that initiative deserves the league's utmost support.
The NFL’s national anthem controversy is far from over, and the Miami Dolphins' updated policy has reignited the flames surrounding the issue.
This week, the team announced a new rule which states that players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the nine-page discipline document, which includes the “Proper Anthem Conduct” guidelines, ESPN reports.
The dolphins issued a statement confirming that they sent the document to the NFL without offering further details.
"The NFL required each team to submit their rules regarding the anthem before their players reported to training camp," the team said. "We will address this issue once the season starts. All options are still open.''
The Dolphins sent the document to the NFL in compliance with league protocol, which requires every team to submit their updated team standards before training camp begins. The Miami team was just one of the first to have to submit the paperwork because they are among the first to have players report to camp.
One caveat that ESPN notes is that the Dolphins seem to be delaying their final decision on what to do about kneeling players. By simply leaving it open to maximum penalties in the paperwork, the team could later scale those consequences back.
However, once the paperwork is in, they can’t later decide to increase the potential discipline for conduct violations. As one source reportedly said, there is no expectation that players will actually have to face a four-game suspension.
During the 2017 season, wide receiver Kenny Stills, safety Michael Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas took a knee during the anthem several times. Although Stills is the only one of those players who remains on the team, this year the Dolphins added defensive end Robert Quinn, who is known to have raised his fist during the national anthem for the past two years.
It’s simply baffling that the league and team officials would rather resort to punishing players as a solution to the issue instead of using their platform and resources to tackle the social injustices that led to the movement in the first place.
No one would have to worry about players kneeling if the government and others in positions of power would stop ignoring the plight of minorities in this country.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs