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Yes, the NFL technically still has a national anthem policy that prohibits football player from kneeling throughout the to sing or playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to games. But the ascendancy is a pointless thing in the league"s game operations manual.

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The policy, amended in 2018 a couple years after ~ Colin Kaepernick sparked league-wide protests versus racial injustice and police brutality by sitting and also then kneeling during the nationwide anthem, has never been enforced.


That policy is under the microscopic lense once again as the NFL starts its 2020 season. Much more police killings the unarmed Black civilization in current months have triggered protests in the joined States and globally, and also the demonstrations have actually spilled into the sporting activities world. NFL football player were meant to protest this racial injustices, as well, once given ago their gameday communication on the field in prior of millions of viewers.

Which is good in the mind of NFL commissioner roger Goodell, in ~ least based on his latest comments.


MORE: The finish Colin Kaepernick protest timeline

"Yes," Goodell proclaimed frankly when asked by former NFL player Emmanuel Acho whether he will assistance players who protest throughout the nationwide anthem in 2020. Goodell recently appeared on Acho"s show called "Uncomfortable Conversations with a black color Man" in a two-part episode.

"We have never disciplined a single player for anything through the national anthem and in violation (of the policy)," Goodell continued. "And ns don"t intended to. And I will support them."

Of course, many would controversy one noteworthy player has been unofficially disciplined for protesting during the national anthem. Kaepernick, who started the trend in the NFL earlier in 2016, hasn"t played in the league due to the fact that that season. The quarterback and former 49ers teammate Eric Reid also filed collusion grievances against the league, both of i beg your pardon were resolved last year.

The NFL additionally has to be inconsistent v its message on protests throughout the national anthem — for this reason the plan that was established yet never enforced. Listed below is every you must know about that policy and why that was automatically disregarded.

NFL nationwide anthem policy

Kaepernick in 2016 started his protesting by sit on the bench throughout the national anthem prior to 49ers preseason games. A few days ~ his protests to be noticed and reported on by media, Kaepernick changed his an approach of demonstration based upon a conversation with Nate Boyer. The former Seahawks player and also Green Beret convinced Kaepernick that kneeling before the American flag rather than sitting on the bench would be a much more respectful method of protest due to the fact that "soldiers take it a knee in front of a please brother"s grave."

Regardless, sit or kneeling, Kaepernick technically to be violating the NFL"s policy on conduct during the national anthem before games.

The plan has since been amended (more on the below), however here is the old NFL rule Kaepernick violated when he started protesting much more than four years ago:


"The national Anthem should be played before every NFL game, and also all players must be ~ above the sideline for the nationwide Anthem.

"During the national Anthem, players on the field and also bench area should stand at attention, confront the flag, organize helmets in your left hand, and refrain indigenous talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in great condition. It have to be pointed out to players and also coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect because that the flag and also our country. Failure to be on the field by the begin of the nationwide Anthem may result in discipline, such together fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of breeze choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses."


Even despite Kaepernick was reportedly blackballed through the league following the 2016 season, it"s precious nothing that he was never ever fined or exposed by the NFL as a an outcome of his protesting. However the league didn"t precisely support him.

"I don"t have to agree through what (Kaepernick) is doing," Goodell said in his very first public comment on NFL player protests. "I assistance our players when they desire to see readjust in society, and we don"t live in a perfect society. On the other hand, us believe really strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that."

MORE: Why the NFL is playing Black national anthem prior to games

Evidently, almost all of the NFL"s 32 team owners who vote on policy transforms agreed through Goodell"s early stage assessment. So after two periods of football player protesting throughout the nationwide anthem with varying degrees of frequency, those NFL team owners in might of 2018 voted come amend the league"s nationwide anthem policy.

Below is the league"s explain on the policy that technically stays in place today:

The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL"s ongoing commitment to neighborhood communities and our country — one the is especially in that scope, resources, and alignment v our players. Us are dedicated to continuing our participation with football player to advance the goals of justice and fairness in every corners of our society.

The efforts by countless of our players sparked awareness and action around problems of society justice that should be addressed. The platform that us have developed together is absolutely unique in skilled sports and also quite likely in American business. We room honored to work with our football player to drive progress.

It was unfortunate the on-field protests developed a false perception amongst many that hundreds of NFL players to be unpatriotic. This is not and also was never the case.

This season, every league and also team personnel shall stand and show respect because that the flag and also the anthem. Personnel who select not to was standing for the anthem may stay in the locker room till after the anthem has been performed.

We think today"s decision will save our focus on the game and the particularly athletes that play it — and on our pan who enjoy it. ...

The 32 member clubs the the nationwide Football League have actually reaffirmed their solid commitment to work alongside our football player to combine our areas and advancement social justice. The distinctive platform that we have developed is unmatched in the scope, and also will carry out extraordinary sources in assistance of programs to promote confident social change in ours communities.

The membership likewise strongly believes that:

All team and also league personnel on the ar shall stand and show respect because that the flag and the anthem.The video game Operations hands-on will it is in revised to remove the requirement that all players it is in on the field for the anthem.Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem might stay in the locker room or in a comparable location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.A club will be fined by the league if the personnel space on the field and also do no stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.Each society may develop its own job-related rules, regular with the over principles, about its personnel who carry out not stand and also show respect for the flag and also the anthem.The commissioner will certainly impose suitable discipline on league personnel who perform not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

The six alters to the policy provided above were authorized by all NFL team owners except Jed York of the 49ers, who said he abstained from voting due in component to "the lack of player authorized in the decision process."

And that lack of player involvement was undoubtedly an issue. Obviously, a policy that continued to shot to remove peaceful protests top top the field wasn"t going come fly through the football player — especially since the NFL did not consult v the NFL football player Association prior to its revised of the rule.

"Management has chosen to quash the same freedom of speech the protects someone who wants to salute the flag in an initiative to stop someone who does not wish to do so," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith claimed in the wake of the league"s policy tweak. "The sad irony of this rule is the anyone who wants to express their patriotism is topic to the whim that a person who calls himself an "Owner." I recognize that not all of the NFL CEO"s room for this and also I recognize that true American patriots room not cheering today."

Added then-Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins: "What NFL owner did now was thwart the players" constitutional civil liberties to express themselves and use our communication to draw attention to society injustices choose racial inequality in our country. Anyone loses when voices gain stifled."

A pair of month later, ~ the players had actually filed a grievance against the league, the NFL and also the NFLPA exit a share statement the the brand-new policy (or at the very least the enforcement of it) would continue to be on hold "for the next several weeks" together the 2 sides debated the matter. 

About a month later, after football player were watched protesting during the nationwide anthem front of 2018 preseason games, the NFL officially announced it would not discipline those players regardless of the policy.

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"The NFL has actually been involved in constructive discussions with the NFL players Association regarding the anthem and issues that equality and social justice that are of problem to numerous Americans,” the organization said in a statement. “While those discussions continue, the NFL has actually agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any kind of club job-related rules that could an outcome in players being disciplined for their conduct throughout the performance of the anthem.

“Meanwhile, there has actually been no adjust in the NFL’s policy regarding the nationwide anthem. The anthem will proceed to be played prior to every game, and also all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time space expected to stand during the presentation the the flag and performance the the anthem. Personnel who execute not wish to execute so can choose to remain in the locker room."