NFL will not self-discipline kneelers as anthem protests make preseason return

Professional soccer is again and so are the take-a-knee protests, however the NFL isn’t planning on disciplining gamers who refuse to face through the nationwide anthem—no less than for now.

Oakland Raiders working again Marshawn Lynch sat on the bench whereas the anthem performed earlier than Friday night time’s preseason sport, simply as he did final 12 months, and Miami Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt previous to the Thursday sport in Miami.

In a press release, the NFL stated it was nonetheless engaged in “constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans.”

In May, the NFL introduced a coverage change requiring gamers on the sideline earlier than video games to face for the anthem ceremony or stay off the sphere, however the league backed down a month later after a grievance was filed by the union arguing that it ought to have been consulted.

“While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem,” stated the assertion.

In addition, NFL officers stated they “remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities.”

President Trump pounced on the difficulty after Thursday’s video games, urging gamers to “[B]e happy, be cool” and “[F]ind another way to protest! Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”



While the overwhelming majority of gamers stood, a number of engaged in different gestures resembling elevating fists and linking arms. Philadelphia Eagles defensive finish Michael Bennett, a protest chief final season in Seattle, walked to the bench through the anthem, in response to the Philadelphia Daily News.

Ten New York Giants gamers knelt ultimately zone earlier than the nationwide anthem was performed, in response to Fox6, whereas the Florida Times Union reported that a number of Jacksonville Giants remained within the tunnel for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Egging on the protesters was free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who led the kneeling through the 2016 common season however has not performed since. He has filed a grievance with the NFL accusing workforce homeowners of colluding to maintain him out of the league.

“My brother @kstills continued his protest against systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee,” stated Kaepernick on Instagram. “Albert Wilson @ithinkisee12 joined him in protest. Stay strong brothers!”

The NFL noticed its scores drop by practically 10 p.c within the 2017 common season, a decline attributed largely to fan outrage over the protests.

The NFL doesn’t have a lot time left to resolve the difficulty earlier than the 2018 common season. After three extra weeks of preseason video games, the season is scheduled to start Sept. 6 with a Thursday night time sport between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.

Giants linebacker Olivier Vernon, an everyday kneeler final season who stood for the anthem on Thursday, stated he wished to see how the NFL and NFLPA resolve the scenario earlier than deciding whether or not to protest this 12 months.

“Right now, we are waiting to see how everything goes with the league,” Vernon stated in NJ Advance Media. “We are engaging in talks and seeing what everything is going to lead to. It’s just football for right now.”

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