NFL Unveils New National Anthem Guidelines — Teams Will Be Punished for Players Disrespecting Flag on the Field

Correction [5/23/18, 5:28 p.m. ET]: Previously, this story inaccurately claimed that the NFL would fine the players and personnel who declined to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem” while on the field. We have corrected the error.  

The NFL announced Wednesday it is rolling out strict regulations for athletes who refuse to “respect” the national anthem while they are on the field.

According to the new leaguewide policy, if any players or personnel of a team fail to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem” — including attempts to kneel or sit, as many players did during the 2017 season — that team will be subjected to fines, ESPN reported.

The teams will also have the opportunity to pass fines along to any personnel or players for any anthem-related infraction.

“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”

There are some details that remain unclear, such as what the fines will be and how — exactly — the league defines “respect.”

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Additionally, to players and team personnel who would prefer not to participate at all, the new guidelines — which were approved by all 32 team owners — dictate they are allowed to remain in the locker room until the patriotic ceremony is completed.

Goodell praised the NFL stars who did take a knee during the national anthem, claiming their efforts “sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed,” but he said their demonstrations “created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.”

“This is not and was never the case,” he argued. 

The policy change comes after a year of intense criticism, declining ratingsand boycotting from many on the right, including from President Donald Trump himself, who condemned the protests during the national anthem.

The NFL’s policy previously stated players “should stand” during the national anthem. The updated regulations provide additional clarity from the league. 

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