What Are the NFL’s Rules for Kneeling During the National Anthem in 2020?

by Caroline Bynum
what-are-nfls-rules-kneeling-during-national-anthem-2020

Since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee in 2016, teams are scrutinized for their response to the National Anthem protest. As more voice their opinion on the changing policies, the NFL has little time to amend the current kneeling policy. The 2020 NFL season begins Thursday, September 10, so time is dwindling to confirm or change the Anthem policy.

Current News And Opinions On Kneeling

Many opinions on athletes’ decision to kneel have changed recently. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, recently announced a complete 180 in his opinion on the matter. He previously told players to stand alert and approach the anthem with a singular response. Now, though, he recognizes that players have diverse opinions and respect differing decisions.

Similarly, general manager of the Broncos, John Elway, explains his team’s players may “do as they wish.”

It comes as no surprise that many social media users have rushed to give their responses to the two men. The politically divisive topic continues to pull fans in either direction. A fractured fan base continues to discuss the act of protest as the NFL season begins.

We now wait to see what athletes will do as the Anthem plays on Thursday. So, when it comes to policy, what is the current ruling on the field?

The NFL’s Past & Present National Anthem Policy

Team owners voted to change the National Anthem rule in 2018 following the start of protests in 2016.

The 2016 policy on the National Anthem firmly states that “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

The policy continues, “Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”

When a majority of owners voted to change the rule, Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a statement to explain changes. In the statement published on the NFL site in May of 2018, Goodell speaks on the NFL’s growth mindset. “We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society,” he says.

He continues to address the public perception of protests. Goodell writes, “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.”

The adjusted 2018 policy states, “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.”

Other Changes Made In 2018 Adjustments

The 2018 statement also lists the following, as other beliefs by the membership:

  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.

Since the May 2018 release of updates, there has been no confirmation on other changes. Therefore, this 2018 statement still stands, giving players the opportunity to protest the National Anthem from the locker room. Fans will be looking tomorrow night to see how current controversy plays out as the season begins.

H/T: Sporting News

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