Before 2016, no one really thought of the NFL’s national anthem policy. Everyone always stood up, removed their hats and helmets, and were silent as the “Star-Spangled Banner” played. In 2016, QB Colin Kaepernick took the world by storm when he took a knee during the anthem in protest over racial inequality and police brutality. Since then, there has been a heated debate on how to properly address the national anthem in the NFL, since there was no rule to prevent it.
NFL’s new national anthem policy
The previous NFL national anthem policy required all players and staff to stand on the field during the anthem. That was basically the full extent of the policy. In 2018, NFL owners unanimously approved a new policy that responded to kneeling or sitting. All players are still required to stand for the anthem if they are on the field. There’s now an option for players and personnel to wait in the locker room. There are fines from the league if a player or team personnel do not respect the anthem properly. The teams can also give out additional fines to violators.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke out on the new policy and stated the NFL is patriotic but also wants to respect the players’ right to speak freely on matters around the world.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem.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. We were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
In addition to the new national anthem policy, the NFL is more involved in social justices and are also playing the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. The league played it, along with the national anthem, at the Super Bowl, NFL Draft and during all Week 1 games last year. They will continue to play it all big league events and it may be added to all NFL games in the future.