The new rules dictate that players and personnel should stand for the anthem and that those who wish not to may choose instead to remain in the locker room during the pregame ceremony. Should a player kneel or “not show appropriate respect” for the anthem by whatever definition the league sets, their team will be fined.
President Trump took a victory lap after the news came out, but would later add that he believed new rules did not go far enough and said of players that chose to remain in their locker room “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Across the league, players were asked for their reaction to the new policy, Trump’s words, and the ongoing conversation surrounding the protests.
You can read some of their responses below.
“What NFL owners did today was thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country. Everyone loses when voices get stifled.”
“While I disagree with this decision, I will not let it silence me or stop me from fighting. The national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the past 2 years will persist as we continue to use our voices, our time and our money to create a more fair and just criminal justice system, end police brutality and foster better educational and economic opportunities for communities of colour and those struggling in this country.”
“For me, this has never been about taking a knee, raising a fist or anyone’s patriotism but doing what we can to effect real change for real people. #thefightcontinues”
“Disgusting. I say ‘disgusting’ because of our First Amendment rights. We have freedom of speech, right? Freedom to protest? Because somebody decides to protest something, now have to be kicked out of the country? That’s not how things should work, in my opinion. … Just because somebody disagrees with something, or if I didn’t stand for the anthem, or if I don’t like what’s going on, that’s basically him saying I should be kicked out the country.”
“We’re supposed to have a conversation about things, talk about things, work things through. Everybody is not gonna agree on things, everybody is not gonna have the same opinion on things. So just because somebody disagrees or has an issue with something that’s going on in this country, it doesn’t mean that they should pack up and leave. That’s absurd, in my opinion.”
“[President Donald Trump speaking out and more players protesting] happened … but I don’t know if that’s still going to take place or what’s going to happen. Who knows? I don’t.”
“He’s an idiot. Plain and simple. I respect the man because he’s a human being, first and foremost. But he’s just being more divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. For him to say that anyone who doesn’t follow his viewpoints or his constituents’ viewpoints should be kicked out of the country, it’s not very empathetic, it’s not very American-like, actually to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon.”
“It’s kind of ironic to me that the president of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.”
“This is fear of a diminished bottom line. It’s also a fear of a president turning his base against a corporation. This is not patriotism. Don’t get it confused. These owners don’t love America more than the players demonstrating and taking real action to improve it. It also lets you, the fan, know where our league stands.”
“I will continue to be committed to affecting change with my platform. I’m someone who’s always looked at the anthem as a declaration of ideals, including the right to peaceful protest. Our league continues to fall short on this issue.”
“I haven’t really thought too much about it, because it’s really not going to affect me. When I go out there, I’m going to stand for the anthem, and I’m going to play football. That’s what we’re there to do — we’re there to play football. We don’t want a ton of distractions.”
“I’ve made myself very clear. I will be standing up with my hand over my heart, showing respect to the United States of America and the flag and everything it stands for. … I would expect that everybody’s gonna be out there with their hand over their heart, showing respect to the flag and to the country.”
“That’s just another topic to get everybody against each other. I hate that we have to go down this route, but it is what it is. It makes [the protesters] look bad. Your whole team is out there and you come running out like, ‘Oh, he’s the guy.’ Who wants to go through that? That’s humiliating us as a person, because we’re trying to stand for something, to single us out in front of everybody.”
“‘Appropriate respect for flag and anthem’ implies that guys were being disrespectful towards it. Which is an opinion. Most people who believe that ignore the responses from the players and more importantly why men chose to protest.”
“I didn’t know about it. I don’t get into none of that. To each his own with that. You want to stand out, stand out; you want to stand in, stand in. But everyone should have their right.”
“I’m glad they came to an agreement in some form or another. I’ll be out there standing.”
“That’s up to the individual. I’m the type of person that I respect the people that’s over there fighting for us. Whoever want to sit down, that’s on them. Whoever want to stand up, same to them too. I’m the type of person that I believe in what I believe in, and I stand on it.”
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