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National Football League players, coaches grapple with new anthem policy

26 May 2018

I think our leadership in the National Basketball Association understands that when the NFL players were kneeling, they were kneeling to protest police brutality, to protest racial inequality, they weren't disrespecting the flag or military, but our president chose to make it about that, the NFL followed suit, pandered to their fan base, that created this hysteria. They weren't disrespecting the flag or the military, but our president decided to make it about that.

According to the new National Football League edict, teams will not be fined if players stay in the locker room for the anthem, but if they come out onto the field, they must stand respectfully.

Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday (May 24) he hadn't yet addressed the issue with the team or owner Gayle Benson, but those conversations will happen at some point.

Goodell said on Wednesday that it was "unfortunate" that on-field protests "created a false perception among many that thousands of National Football League players were unpatriotic".

But teammate Demario Davis had mixed emotions about the policy.

Rooney confirmed an ESPN report that an official vote of the owners wasn't taken, although Goodell said at a news conference Wednesday that the policy was approved unanimously. "And it has nothing to do with kneeling. We never had a player kneel a year ago". Since that time, I think the league and the players have grown closer in terms of becoming partners and trying to improve communities. It's never been about that. "I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it's good". "I think that's part of it". The two sides need each other and it's best for both parties to work on issues together.

Davis, the son of an Army veteran, has a unique perspective with regards to the protest.

On May 23, the NFL took a hard stance on a big issue fueling America's culture wars: The league ruled its players must either stand during the national anthem or stay in the locker room until the song's conclusion. As a veteran, I'm sick of people using us and those who are now serving as political pawns to further their own agenda. "But I think the guys that want to help the community and help police brutality, they'll still find a way to continue to do that without having such a controversial way to do it".

Richie Incognito placed on involuntary psychiatric hold in Florida
Incognito was an All-Big 12 pick in 2003 but was kicked off the team by new head coach Bill Callahan in the fall of 2004. Sources also told TMZ that Incognito had been acting odd at the gym the previous day, but did not become violent.

Even normally reserved Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson agreed with the sentiment that the owners' decision was a message to players to essentially be quiet.

After practice, several players gave their reaction on the league's new policy. "No (anthem) policy is going to fix the problems that we have in America right now, it's not going to fix the shootings that are happening, it's not going to fix all the racial tension, a policy on the national anthem". It's not very American like, actually, to me. Now everyone has to respect our military, including multimillion-dollar football players.

But, as Davis noted, the protesting players are not showing disrespect to the country, but instead trying to improve the lives of people here.

Ever since I was little I've always loved my Chicago Bears.

"I do not like imposing any club-specific rules", Johnson told Newsday. Just because somebody has an issue with something going on in this country they should pack up and leave? Nationalism is just loving your country just to love it. Patriotism is loving it enough to sacrifice for it, but also to call it (out) when it's wrong.

Last August, HuffPost reported that based on the Post's data, at least 223 black Americans had been killed by police gunfire in the year since Kaepernick first sat, then took a knee, to protest police violence. And Payton said he expects Benson to feel the same way.

While I disagree with this decision, I will not let it silence me or stop me from fighting.

National Football League players, coaches grapple with new anthem policy