NFL Owners Pass New Anthem Policy

NFL owners have voted to pass a new policy regarding demonstrations during the national anthem. On Wednesday, commissioner Roger Goodell announced that teams – not players – will be fined for signs of “disrespect” during the anthem. Meanwhile, players will be permitted to stay in the locker room during the anthem if they choose to do so. 

Here, in full, is the league’s breakdown of its new rules, which were passed via unanimous vote:

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.​

Goodell, for his part, is hopeful that the new policy will help to fix things from a public relations perspective.

It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell said in his statement. “This is not and was never the case.”

The new policy will shift the onus of anthem rule enforcement and player discipline from the league office to individual teams. However, the new policy is unlikely to satisfy the players, who were not involved in the crafting of the new policy.

Maybe this new rule proposal that is being voted on is a “compromise” between the NFL office and club CEOs on various sides of the issue,” NFLPA executive George Atallah wrote on Twitter, “But certainly not with player leadership; we weren’t there or part of the discussions.”

The union released a statement shortly after Goodell’s press conference which hints at a forthcoming grievance:

“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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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99 comments on “NFL Owners Pass New Anthem Policy

  1. Breezy

    I see no issue with this. Should please both sides. Unless the whole purpose of players kneeling is that they want to be seen on national TV kneeling, rather than keep their political views to themselves .If that’s the case, are they doing it for the right reasons? Or to make a headline.

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    • bencole

      I think that is the purpose right? To have a visible protest?

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      • WazBazbo

        bencole, I agree. If a tree falls and nobody hears it, etc – the whole idea is to bring attention to the issue in a non-violent way.

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          • WazBazbo

            That’s a fair point… But as with all issues, if you don’t keep the spotlight on it, it fades away from public perception. We’re SO bombarded with messages that incessant repetition of whatever is being hyped is the most basic and (I assume) most effective technique – witness advertising as an example.

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            • bencole

              Sure. I think don’t think the intention is to just be heard though, it’s to be heard until it brings about the protester’s desired change though. I don’t think that’s happened, so if you’re suggestion is that because everyone saw it that it should stop, I don’t see how that makes sense.

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              • WazBazbo

                I’d be certain that these or any protesters are hoping to bring about change. That certainly hasn’t happened here. My guess is that, like most serious protests, the hope is to keep it in the public eye long enough that people who have the power to initiate changes start talking about how to solve the root problem, not do away with the symptoms.

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                • cka2nd

                  Holy crap, a reasonable, mature, polite discussion of this issue. What he hell is wrong with you people?

                  ;)

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                  • cka2nd

                    I will say, the utility of the anthem protests has probably passed, unless the issue is so popular among the players that an actual majority of them can be convinced to engage in a mass protest during the anthem. I don’t see such an issue anywhere on the horizon, though.

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      • mays2425

        They can still do it. They’ll just face a fine. If it means so much to them they will continue to do it and pay the fine. If it really means that much to players who protest, then they’ll keep doing it regardless of the fine they’re given.

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        • WazBazbo

          Also a good point. Interesting to consider that this new policy might have the effect of showing who is serious and who is “fashionable” about the protests (for want of a better word). If I’m reading the article right, the team would incur the fine. I’d imagine they would pass that off to the player in some form of punishment… Guessing a team like the Cowboys, with an owner very vocal about the issue, might levy a more severe penalty to players who violate the policy than other teams.

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        • TrollHunter

          They can’t be fined though. The team can be, but the players themselves can not be punished for this!

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          • Dodgethis

            Did you not read the part about teams having the freedom to do as they wish regarding punishment and enforcement. The league fines the team, the team fines the player.

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      • sports is life

        Protest at your company and see what happens. Players are employees! Employees follow rules and regulations or they look for other employment.

        Our country has forgotten simple logic

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        • Ironman_4life

          Thank you. We’ve gotten so overboard that peoples opinions are becoming more important than common sense

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          • Trevor

            Agreed! I don’t have a problem with protests; I actually support it. But these guys are on the clock and it’s a disservice to the fans that pay to watch their favorite player or team beat the crap out of the Steelers.

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            • cka2nd

              And now we’re back to the normal tenor of this debate. Sigh.

              I know bosses want employees to be wage slaves and generally treat them as such, but workers have been fighting against that kind of attitude and power relationship for over a century now. As a unionized employee, I’ve protested in my employers’ offices with no retaliation because those bosses had to weigh the pluses and minuses of retaliating. Hell, we almost had a wildcat strike – i.e., not sanctioned by the union ahead of time, although this one would have been after the fact if it happened – 30 years ago because the bosses wanted to remove asbestos without closing down the jobsite.

              As for kneeling during the anthem being a disservice to the fans, we can debate the politics of the kneeling all day long – including the politics of the reaction to it – but no one had refused to go out on the field to beat the crap out of the Steelers, so your desire to see said Steeler-beating has not in fact been disserved.

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                • cka2nd

                  And union-busting swine like Reagan, Thatcher and their ilk have driven down wages and living standards all over the world over the last 40 years. Deregulating scum like Carter and Clinton, too. May you all rot in hell for the misery you have caused.

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        • JDGoat

          Your everyday joe job is not the same as a sports league that has millions of eyes on it. This is their prime opportunity to make change, and especially by doing something as harmless as kneeling for an anthem

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        • TrollHunter

          That’s only true with non-unionized companies. Because there is no rules regarding the anthem in the CBA, the players under contract can’t be touched!

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          • cka2nd

            You may be right, but it may take a grievance to clarify that fact.

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          • Dodgethis

            Except this falls within the commissioners powers underlined in said cba

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            • cka2nd

              And you may be right, Dodgethis. Given the arbitrariness of so many of Goddell’s rulings over the last several years, and what seems to be growing anger within its ranks over how he has exercised his powers, it will be interesting to see if the NFLPA tries to tighten up that section of the cba in the next round of negotiations.

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  2. Clark K

    The easier and right thing to do was revert it back to the way it was, both teams stay in the locker room, no one outside the teams know who kneels or stands. But instead let’s just hide the protesters, cause the NFL is a image league.

    If I was a player I wouldn’t give a d*mn about the rules I’d be on the field with my teammates kneeling, and those that really believe in this cause should too, don’t let them hide you away.

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    • bledrules

      That’s because you’re a piece of trash who doesn’t know what the word respect means
      GFY loser

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      • forwhomjoshbelltolls

        He does, however, know the English language well enough to know that sentences end in periods. And he even spells out all of his words.

        Show the English language some respect.

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      • JDGoat

        Bledrules hates what America is all about. It must suck having to be apart of a free country where protests are allowed and encouraged

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        • cka2nd

          I personally have no problems with the players being on the field or with anyone kneeling. On the other hand, if you’re going to display patriotism, I say you should at least do it the right way, so no flying tattered flags, and if the old Bud Grant-coached Minnesota Vikings all stood at attention with their helmets all held in the crook of their right or left elbow, I’m fine with that, too.

          Now that’s an interesting question for Bud: What would his response have been if Jim Marshall or Mick Tingelhoff – the acknowledged leaders of the team, not a couple of scrubs – came to him and said that they wanted to kneel during the anthem to protest something like the government killings at Kent State or Attica? The days of Vince Lombardi trading an All-Pro (and future HoF) center like Jim Ringo for having the temerity to show up with an agent for a contract meeting were fast slipping by, even then, but “unpatriotic” athletes like Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith still faced serious backlash.

          Anyway, just thinking “out loud.”

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        • Dodgethis

          It’s not about protest, it’s about usurping someone else’s infrastructure when they are paying you to work for them.

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  3. mays2425

    I’m glad they have to stand. I don’t get to do or say what I want as an employee at my job, why do they get to? If you really believe in the cause you’re fighting for, then do it on your own time and on your own dime and not the owners.

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    • I agree with mays2415 your paid to do your job not protest. If you care so much do something on your off time. Your playing a sport making millions shut up and play

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    • bencole

      This “I can’t do it at my job” thing gets me. I think it’s a whole bunch of people who are mad because they work hard snd just get by and don’t have the same privileges as these athletes. The bottom line is, you can’t do what you want in your life at your job because you’re simply not good enough at anything in the world to get away with it. These guys are so talented and being so much money and value to the table that they can get away with it. Good for them.

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      • Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid may disagree with being able to get away with it with all their talent.

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        • bencole

          Well, in fairness, players at their level may only be able to get away with closer to what the rest of the world does.

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          • cka2nd

            “The bottom line is, you can’t do what you want in your life at your job because you’re simply not good enough at anything in the world to get away with it.”

            Well, the real reason that everyday people can’t get away with speaking up on the job – or even wearing a political button, which I used to do every damn day I was at work – is because of the near destruction of private sector unions in this country. Labor laws are a joke – How many tens of millions of dollars has Wal-Mart been fined for failing to pay overtime pay? What was the effect on Apple’s bottom line of the wage suppressing collusion Steve Jobs was engaged in with half of Silicon Valley? – and labor unions were whipped in fight after fight across industry after industry in the 1980’s (Ronald Reagan is hopefully burning in the pits of hell this very moment).

            What does get me is that people would rather drag other workers down to their level than try to work together to lift themselves, and most everyone else, up. You know, the “If I can be f***ed up the a** by my boss, you have to be f***ed up the a** by your boss, too!” attitude.

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            • cka2nd

              Hell, I don’t even consider myself an American patriot for most purposes, but I took off my hat and placed it over my heart at a vintage car show in front of my local VA while some young lady was singing the national anthem just to shame everyone else into showing the damn thing the level of respect that most of them would claim it deserved.

              Worked, too (he writes, smug putz that he is).

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  4. WazBazbo

    I do still consistently wonder how many people who crab about players not standing for the anthem get out of their easy chairs, stop raiding the salsa for a minute or two and stand when the anthem is played. As divisive an issue as this is and for all the football I watch with people, many of whom loudly denounce the players who kneel, I’ve NEVER seen anybody stop what they were doing at home and stand for the anthem… Much to the contrary, I’ve OFTEN heard stuff like, “Oh, good, time enough to use the rest room!” or some such thing. Pretty respectful.

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    • Ironman_4life

      When somebody at my house is paying me $10 million a year and they tell me to stand for the anthem I will gladly do so

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      • WazBazbo

        Gotcha. So your loyalty and respect is available for purchase.

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          • Ironman_4life

            What I meant by that is peoples opinions change when there’s money involved

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        • Ironman_4life

          Id like to re reply to wazbazbo about loyalty and respect. I work for my local County fire department. Every year I required to sign a piece of paper that says that I am a member of a formal institution and then I will conduct myself in a manner that represents that institution. If I failed to abide by the rules of the institution I will be terminated. I don’t know how you comprehend that but to me that means that I’m required to do what they tell me because they pay my salary. I dont care about why there protesting. Most of them don’t even know why they’re protesting. With that being said I understand there cause but its got to be done on personal time , not the bosses dime.

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          • WazBazbo

            First, my respect for your opinion and for the important work you do.

            I think where I’m most sympathetic to what the players are doing is realizing they’re on a big stage and taking advantage of that spotlight to make a statement that’s important to them. They make a lot of money, no doubt, but at the same time, their careers are generally notoriously short – the average NFL career is anywhere from 3 to 6 years, depending upon who’s stats you believe. They have a lot to lose, and Kap is certainly finding out that there’s a potential price to pay. I’ll also disagree with you that most of them don’t even know why they’re protesting. I’d instead suggest that most of the people who follow the NFL don’t understand what they’re protesting; I for one am a middle class white American male, so I have almost NOTHING in common with who is protesting and what statement is being made. I’ve never suffered repression or blatant condemnation for the color of my skin, so I can’t fully understand the passion behind the protests. I do, however, respect their decision to use their fleeting moments of fame to make a statement that they feel will hopefully cause positive change in the world.

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            • Trevor

              Excuse me for jumping in, but that was a very respectful and mature response. As I agree with your statement, I’d like to add that there is an existential factor at play here. If these players, or anyone else for that matter, wishes to exercise their constitutional rights in such a manner, then they should be willing to accept the consequences of their actions whether they be positive or negative. As Kappernick is finding out.

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              • cka2nd

                One caveat about being willing to “accept the consequences” of one’s actions. If the “consequences” are unjust, no one should have to accept them, whether it’s MartinLuther King, Jr. being thrown into jail, peaceful demonstrators being beaten or shot with live ammo by snipers, or people doing civil disobedience being put in “pain compliance” holds (even when I disagree with them politically and have counter-demonstrated against them!) or shot in the eyes at point-blank range with pepper spray (seen it!). Kaepernick is clearly suffering the consequences, and if you ask me, they are damned un-just.

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                • WazBazbo

                  I agree. It elevates my respect for the bravery a stance can require. Paraphrasing an old quote, it’s dangerous to be right when those who control your paycheck are wrong.

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            • Ironman_4life

              I also thought that was a very good response and I agree with you the players that have pretested are starting to pay the price for that. With that being said the NFL is a product and people pay for that product in when they start having issues with that product they turn away. This whole entire issue is not going to have any winners all it is going to do is divide us even more. Let me ask you this? How come the NFL is the only sport having this issue?

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                • Trevor

                  What I mean is, I don’t have an answer to your question. We don’t need anymore miscommunication on the internet.Lol.

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              • cka2nd

                I can’t answer your question about the NFL, either, except to say that it has been widely reported that it probably wouldn’t have been an issue in the NBA, with two stated reasons being that the union is stronger and that NBA fans tend to be more liberal than NFL fans. But I’m just reporting the speculation that I’ve read.

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  5. acarneglia

    How about everyone comes out of the locker room and everybody stands up! It’s simple! You aren’t protesting police brutality, you are just being an asshole!

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  6. itslonelyatthetrop

    This is just gonna draw more attention to those protesting. But, I don’t start watching the game til after kickoff anyway.

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  7. I don’t get what kneeling durning national anthem has to do with police brutality. If they care about police brutality so much protest it in front of your local police station don’t pretend you care take the easy way out and kneel on tv for 30 seconds then go Home to your million dollar homes.

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    • WazBazbo

      Because, of course, making an unpopular statement away from guaranteed TV cameras and media coverage will get the message out to as many people…

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    • Ironman_4life

      Yes. Other sports that former football fans have flocked to

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      • JDGoat

        The NFL losing those fans is the best thing that could happen. The people running away because of a peaceful protest are not the people you want to be associated with.

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        • cka2nd

          Self-righteous, much? I think the fan base of the NFL – which numbers in the tens or hundreds of millions – can and should be a pretty big tent. Out-and-out fascists hurling insults, bottles and batteries at players, no, but I don’t really mind rooting for the same team as someone I may think is a schmuck who gets pissed off over kneeling during the national anthem.

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  8. bigeasye

    I’m all for the right to protest. But not the flag/anthem. If they really want to make an impression- do what Sandy Koufax did on Yom Kippur and flat out not play. People remember that 50 years later. In 50 years nobody will remember Collin Kaepernik or anyone else who kneels. I would love to see them be a force for positive change in an encouraging manner and not one that is clearly divisive.

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    • WazBazbo

      That’s another good point… However, having been a Sandy Koufax fan when he was playing and honoring the dictates of his faith, I do remember that at the time, it caused an uproar. It might be relevant that the uproar has been all but forgotten and the principle he stood for is remembered.

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      • WazBazbo

        Curt Flood from the same era in baseball also comes to mind. Many have no idea who he is, very possibly including the myriad of baseball players who have benefitted financially in a big, big way because Flood was the first to stand up.

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      • cka2nd

        See “Chariots of Fire” and Eric Liddell.

        One of the great sports movies that any fan of sports should see, anyway.

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  9. mays2425

    I just don’t get what Roger goddell actually does. He does not make any decisions unless he’s going to suspend someone.

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    • Ironman_4life

      Id say at $25 million a year he does whatever the heck he wants.

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  10. ChiCity773

    The Kap Rule he really had the NFL scared to loose viewers|What A Joke Master Wins Again with this one|Lets See If it Actually gets him a job now

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  11. Kenleyfornia74

    They should be allowed to kneel however when a team doesn’t want to sign you thats your fault. Poor Kap was passed over by Miami for Jay Cutler. If only he didnt wear a Fidel Castro shirt in Miami

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    • cka2nd

      Pretty sure it was Che.

      And how did Cutler work out for the Fins? You ever heard of the expression “cutting off your nose to spite your face?”

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  12. sluman46953

    if they cant stand for two or three minutes .. go play in canada..

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    • acarneglia

      The anthems relation to sports doesn’t make much sense and that I agree with, but the anthem should still be respected by everybody.

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    • ttinsley1434

      Why? What is your communist reason for not playing our National Anthem, Hitler?

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      • dbacksfan22

        If I was Hitler, it would mean that everybody must stand no matter what, but I’m not. That’s Roger Goddell

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  13. OCTraveler

    Finally a comment I can agree with. The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and all other sports are entertainment outlets and until we require the Anthem at movies, play, concerts or dance recitals, we shouldn’t play it.

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    • dbacksfan22

      Exactly, if a peaceful protest isn’t allowed, why should this anthem be played

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      • ttinsley1434

        Because it’s America, and most people love their country! Is that reason enough, Commie?

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        • dbacksfan22

          ttinsley, you must be an old white guy if you think they must stand for the anthem. They should have the right to kneel to protest police brutality without penalty.

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  14. Jorge Munguia

    Even if athletes protested on their own time (offseason, bye week, etc) they would still get chastised and told to shut up and be grateful.

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  15. Trevor

    NFL certainly stirred up a hornets nest. This new rule will be on the fast track toward judicial review. My question…which circuit court will have to adjudicate this?

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  16. ttinsley1434

    Okay, let’s see what the Snowflakes have to say……….

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    • JDGoat

      It really is pathetic how many snowflakes cry over people protesting peacefully

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      • Trevor

        You said it. I’m sure glad those people weren’t around in 1789, otherwise we would still be under British rule. Oh wait, I do believe our forefathers engaged in violent protests.

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  17. iamoldboy

    Gawd, the NFL nauseating. More b.s to alienate their fan base. But they won’t lose me further, with the exception of my cheering for my team only, they lost me years ago with their p.c nonsense. Isn’t “freedom” grand!?! Don’t protest The Man!

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