#TakeAKnee: Groups, fans slam NFL national anthem protest rule

Cheryl Sanders
May 25, 2018

New York Jets CEO and co-owner, Christopher Johnson, has pledged to pay the fines of any player who defies the NFL's new rule against kneeling during the national anthem. Players who do not wish to stand may stay in the locker room during the anthem, or will face fines if they sit or kneel while on the field.

The new policy, per ESPN, "will subject teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem".

After a season filled with controversy over players protesting peacefully by locking arms, kneeling or skipping the national anthem on the field, Trump lauded the NFL's decision to fine teams for players who might choose to continue their dissent this season. Johnson said. "I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players".

Other players took up the cause, and the gesture carried on during the 2017 season even after Kaepernick left the 49ers and failed to get a job with another team.

"You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing with that if that's what they've done", Trump told "Fox & Friends'" Brian Kilmeade in an interview aired Thursday. "Fining players for expressing what they believe, I think that's kind of overboard". "I think that's a particularly bad idea..."

Chris Long, a member of the Eagles' first-ever Super Bowl-winning team, also responded on Twitter on Wednesday, saying that the move by the owners is motivated by the league's bottom line and not patriotism. He thinks the policy change will "keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it".

But rights groups and many on social media call the new rule "dangerous and un-American".

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L., said the protests, which began in the summer of 2016, created a "false perception among many that thousands of N.F.L. players were unpatriotic". "You know my position on the anthem, and you have to understand that the plan we ended up with, due to some serious work in the [meeting] room, was vastly less onerous than the one that was presented to me late last week". During a September rally, he referred to an National Football League player making a gesture during "The Star-Spangled Banner" as a "son of a bitch" who should be fired. Do I prefer that they stand? That is the protocol long followed by college football, preventing anthem protests from being carried out on the field. He insisted the league met with countless players over the previous year to get their input on the fractious anthem debate, which some have even pointed to as a major reason for the NFL's declining TV ratings.

"I think it's more of a discussion I'll have with my wife and my family because my decisions ultimately affect them most", he said. Players also have the option to stay in the locker room instead during the anthem.

Other reports by iNewsToday