Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva (78) stands outside the tunnel alone during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
It’s late May. If you’re a sports fan like me your focus isn’t much on football at present. It’s on baseball. And hockey playoffs. (Golden Knights — who knew?!) Maybe golf or the Indy 500.
But football season will be here before you know it. And rather than leave the anthem/kneeling controversy up in the air, the NFL has announced a formal policy on the matter:
The teams agreed to the following requirements:
- “All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
- “The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.”
- 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.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
So, a compromise. A fair one, in my view, but one that I’m sure many will find reason to gripe about. Oh, look! Here’s a smattering now (h/t Twitchy.com):
The new NFL policy is not a compromise. The players wanted to assert their right to peaceful protest. The league didn’t. The league has made it against the rules to do so. And no, staying in the locker room isn’t the same thing.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) May 23, 2018
I'll believe this is about "respecting our country" & not the #NFL protecting the interests of a lucrative ad partner when they stop taking money from the government in return for these displays of "patriotism."
— Luke Easterling (@LukeEasterling) May 23, 2018
I'm disgusted by the message that's being sent from the halls of the Justice Department to the playing fields of the NFL. We need to stand up to bullies, now cower before them
— Will Bunch Sign Up For My Newsletter (@Will_Bunch) May 23, 2018
A few questions remain, however:
- What — if any — effect will the new policy have on NFL viewership?
- Now that the issue is settled, does Kaepernick have a future in the NFL?
- How long until President Trump declares victory and spikes the ball?
- Can those of us who just want to watch some football and eat some nachos and occasionally take a break from politics relax now?
Follow Susie on Twitter @SmoosieQ