NFL Players Union Challenges League's Anthem Protest Policy

In May, the NFL handed down a new policy on National Anthem kneeling protests, and now the players union is challenging it.

“Our union filed its non-injury grievance today on behalf of all players challenging the NFL’s recently imposed anthem policy," the NFLPA said in a statement shared by 247 Sports. "The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.

"In advance of our filing today, we proposed to the NFL to begin confidential discussions with the NFLPA Executive Committee to find a salutation to this issue instead of immediately proceeding with litigation," the statement concluded. "The NFL has agreed to proceed with those discussions and we look forward to starting them soon."

As previously mentioned, the grievance is in response to the new rules that NFL announced back in May, with Commissioner Roger Goodell revealing them in a statement.

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

“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of N.F.L. players were unpatriotic,” Goodell's statement continued. “This is not and was never the case.”

The new NFL National Anthem policy is as follows:

  1. "All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
  2. "The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem."
  3. "Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed."
  4. "A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
  5. "Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
  6. "The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."

The new NFLPU grievance has caused some polarizing views to emerge on social media, with some in support of it and other opposing it.

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"I don’t pay tons of money every year for season tix, team apparel, etc to watch you guys take a knee or protest during the National Anthem," one Twitter user commented. "I spend that money for 4 hrs on Sunday to get away from all that mess. You guys are killing the sport that so many of us fans love & enjoy."

"So glad U did this. I'm a huge NFL fan, have been for 55 years, watch several games every weekend. As hard as it is, I have decided to watch NO games this year unless the owners change their stance," someone else said. "I live for football & go thru withdrawal every February. I don't do this lightly."

At this time, the NFL does not appear to have commented publicly on the grievance.