NFL owners will reportedly consider a rule change that would require players to stand during the national anthem, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The discussions around the rule would come next week, when the owners meet in New York City.
Colin Kaepernick sat for the national anthem during the 2016 preseason, before converting his protest of police brutality and inequality people of color face in the United States into a kneel.
After Kaepernick’s protest was noticed, many players followed his lead, including others around the country in other sports and levels of sport.
Discussions around the national anthem were raised after President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who kneel while it is played. Trump said at a rally in Alabama that NFL owners who have players “disrespecting the flag” by kneeling should say “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired.”
It led to a Week 3 in the NFL that showed many different demonstrations, from kneeling, to linking arms, to not coming out for the anthem at all.
In Week 5, Vice President Mike Pence left the Colts’ game after 49ers players took a knee for the national anthem. Pence sent out a series of tweets before firing off a prepared statement in what appeared to be a planned PR stunt.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Later that afternoon, Jerry Jones told reporters that players who “disrespect the flag” wouldn’t be playing, echoing the sentiment that Trump delivered at his rally in Alabama.
Jerry Jones: "If there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period. We're going to respect the flag and I'm going to create the perception of it."
— Brandon George (@DMN_George) October 9, 2017
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that tax laws should be changed so that the NFL doesn’t get “massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country.”
The NBA has a rule that forces players to stand for the national anthem. The league and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum reiterated the rule in a memo to teams and players recently. The rule reads:
2) Players, coaches, and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.
Tatum’s memo says teams could have players or coaches give a joint pregame address, or prepare a video tribute or PSA speaking about issues they care about, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
ESPN obtained a letter that Roger Goodell sent to teams on Tuesday saying that, like many fans, the league believes players should stand for the national anthem.
It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.
Building on many discussions with clubs and players, we have worked to develop a plan that we will review with you at next week’s League meeting. This would include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues, and that will help to promote positive change in our country.
Trump picked a battle with NFL players, but with owners who donated to his campaign, he might get what he wants if the rule is passed.