NFL Bans Kneeling During The National Anthem

The NFL on Wednesday approved a new policy to intercept national anthem protests before they happen, the league.

The measure  for the national anthem but can remain in the locker room if they choose.

Teams could be fined by the league if their players sit or kneel, as many have done in of and in recent seasons after NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s in 2016 earned nationwide attention.

The fining or punishment of players and other personnel would be dictated by the individual teams.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday that “on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.”

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” he said. “Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.”

The NFL Players Association criticized the league for failing to consult with the union on the matter.

“Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement,” the union said.

On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated reported on a different, apparently scrapped, proposal in which teams could be penalized on the field for players kneeling. In that scenario, the home team would decide whether both teams would come out of the locker room for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And if the teams do emerge and players kneel, officials could , the outlet wrote, citing unnamed sources.

“As always, conversations at league meetings are candid, thoughtful and thorough,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told HuffPost in an email early Wednesday. “The clubs explore every option and idea on any policy, and discuss the merits and drawbacks of each approach. We will continue the conversation this morning.”

Michael Zagaris via Getty Images Colin Kaepernick, center, protesting with fellow players Eli Harold (left) and Eric Reid (right) in December 2016.

The league also debated the issue in previous meetings since former 49ers quarterback sparked national controversy in the 2016 season by taking a knee during the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. The movement, which grew to include other players and teams, continued in 2017, from President .

Kaepernick, who was not signed by an NFL team in 2017 after he became a free agent, and former teammate Eric Reid, who also protested, have filed grievances against the league for allegedly conspiring to keep them off NFL rosters because of the demonstrations.

This article has been updated throughout.