On Wednesday, it was announced by the NFL that team owners unanimously approved a revised national anthem policy that requires players to stand on the sidelines during the song. It also allows players who don’t want to participate in the anthem to remain in the locker room until the anthem is over.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 23, 2018
The revised policy is likely to bring some controversy between the NFL and it’s players this upcoming season. The past few seasons have seen players throughout the league take a knee, lock arms, or raise a fist in regards to multiple injustices the nation continues to face. The players who have participated have felt that the field is their ultimate platform to raise awareness and make a difference.
And while team owners have unanimously agreed that fines should be implemented for those who continue to “show disrespect” for the anthem, Jets chairman Christopher Johnson has quickly announced that his perspective still aligns with that of the players. According to Newsday, Johnson has pledged to pay the fine any Jets player receives for violating the new policy this upcoming season.
Jets boss Christopher Johnson tells @bobglauber: "There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.” https://t.co/4T7J3vsDjM
— Neil Best (@sportswatch) May 23, 2018
“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.” – via Newsday.
The Jets official social media accounts also showcased a similar statement from Johnson following the league’s decision on the National Anthem:
Statement from Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson pic.twitter.com/4JObk43oDT
— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 23, 2018
Despite no Jets player taking a knee last season, Johnson still remains supportive of whatever action they wish to take during the anthem. On a few occasions last year the players, coaches and Johnson locked arms during the playing of the anthem.
“Even without those fines, this is going to be tough on the players,” Johnson said. “I want a chance to speak with the coaches and other players to get feedback on this policy and to build on the good work and momentum that we have built up on these issues of social justice, on legislation, and all the things that we can do. I don’t think that this policy will interfere with that at all.”
More To Come?
As controversy surrounding the decision continues to engulf the league, it will be interesting to speculate on the positions other owners take. It was quite the scene last year when Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones announced that if any of his players showed disrespect during the anthem, they would not play.
“Any player who disrespects the flag or does not stand for the anthem will not play in the game.”
Today’s league-wide decision may result in more pressure on the owners as to how to they will handle future protests. Things look like they may get interesting.