The National Football League has made it a requirement for players and league personnel to stand during the playing of The National Anthem, but every team has been given the option to remain in the locker room for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The new National Anthem policy was announced at the NFL Owners’ Meetings in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Following the announcement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement:
“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 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.
“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.
“We believe today's decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it -- and on our fans who enjoy it.”
In conjunction with Commissioner Goodell’s statement, the NFL released a six-point outline of their stance on the National Anthem.
All team and league personnel “shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” but the previous requirement to be on the field for its playing has been removed.
Personnel who do not choose to stand for the Anthem will be permitted to stay in the locker room “or similar location off the field” until its conclusion.
A club will be fined by the league should personnel be on the field and refuse to stand.
Parent clubs have the right to develop their own rules for personnel who do not stand for the Anthem, and the Commissioner has discretion to hand down “discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
The Cleveland Browns joined a long list of players and teams who staged protests during the National Anthem prior to their 10-6 win over the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2017.
Wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, defensive backs Jamar Taylor, Calvin Pryor and Najee Murray, running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson Jr., Brandon Wilds and Terrence Magee, linebackers Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins, rookie safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end Seth DeValve huddled in a circle behind their teammates on the sideline, knelt and held hands during the National Anthem.
Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive linemen Shon Coleman and Marcus Martin, defensive back Jason McCourty and punter Britton Colquitt expressed their support by placing their hands on the shoulders of kneeling teammates while standing.
The Browns resumed their silent demonstrations during the National Anthem prior to their Week 3 game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Despite a chorus of boos from Colts fans, 21 Browns players knelt on the sideline while facing a field-sized American Flag and several others locked arms in a show of unity during the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
And they did so with the full support of Browns ownership, as Dee and Jimmy Haslam joined more than half of the NFL owners in releasing a statement prior to Sunday’s games.
“We view our organization, our league and our players as great unifiers of people,” the statement read. “Our players, just like so many others across our league, have been honest and thoughtful with their attempt to bring awareness to the issues of inequality and social injustice.
“We were incredibly moved by the meaningful and powerful dialogue they initiated within our organization when they spoke of their intent to unify and not be disrespectful while using familiar and important terms like one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
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