The NFL still has no official league policy on whether or not players are required to stand for the national anthem. One option being considered: having each team decide, which doesn’t seem like much of a policy at all.
Several other possibilities remain, from leaving the current anthem policy unchanged to forging a different compromise that would result in a league-wide policy by which players would be required to stand for the anthem if they’re on the sideline but would be given the option to remain in the locker room. Or the NFL could revert to its pre-2009 approach of keeping all players in the locker room until after the anthem is played.
It’s odd that we’re here. It’s odder still considering the players and Roger Goodell worked on an agreement regarding the league’s position on social justice issues important to the players, an agreement that didn’t include anything that would require players to stand for the anthem.
Goodell worked closely on that agreement with the leaders of a group known as the Players Coalition, including Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Some within the sport say that the cooperation between Goodell and the players on that issue makes it unlikely that Goodell would support any effort to require players to stand for the anthem.
Players said then that there was no agreement as part of the social justice deal that they be required to stand for the anthem. But it also appeared that some owners were hopeful that the deal would lead players to voluntarily stand for the anthem.
Ownership is clearly not united on this issue, and there really might be a time in the near future when some teams force players to stand for the anthem while others don’t.
Think of the odd logistics there. Say a team is visiting the Texans, where owner Bob McNair has been very vocal about requiring players to stand. If the visiting team is a team that has no such requirement, how will McNair handle it when there are still protests happening on the field in Houston? Isn’t that self-defeating, especially when fallout could conceivably lead to players avoiding Houston in free agency?
This would be a very odd move for the NFL, although perhaps not unexpected. “Let me do what I want to do!” is pretty much the driving mentality for the type of person who owns a football team, and there hasn’t been a lot of long-term thinking applied to this particular issue. Attempting to force players to stand highlights the injustices players are attempting to point out, which is something people like Bob McNair will never understand, because they clearly aren’t capable of recognizing injustice in the first place.
If they were, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.