The NFLPA (NFL Players Association) is mounting a counter attack on the NFL and plan to challenge the league’s new national anthem policy. Per Pro Football Talk who reported the NFLPA is weighing their options to challenge the legality of the policy by retaining several law firms last week.
At the last NFL owners meeting it was reported that a unanimously vote to approve a new policy on May 23 that requires players and league personnel be on the sideline to stand for the national anthem but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they wish.
Those teams that fail to obey the ruling will be subject to a fine. If a player or any other personnel do not show respect for the anthem. Those clubs will also have the option to fine any team personnel for the infraction. Several owners came out aganist the new Policy making statements that they would pay the players fines.
Once the NFLPA objected the new policy let the war of words between the NFL and NFLPA and the players privately coordinating a plan of attack. This could have been avoided if the NFL would have communicated with the PA or even a panel of players, “the NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’”
Dee Smith the head of the players union warned at the time that it would “review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
The story by Pro Football Talks mentioned that one legal challenge could come in the form of a “non-injury grievance” under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The anthem issue has been a divisive one, with some feeling players not standing for the anthem is disrespectful to the U.S. military and those that serve and have served for this country. others feel it is the players’ right to protest perceived social injustice peacefully. As a former Navy Seal told me “thats why we defend this country for the rights of others, so they can have freedom of speech and friendly protest, among other things”.
Former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick started the movement in 2016 when he and a teammate knelt during the national anthem as a protest to denounce police brutality against African-Americans, social injustice and racial inequality.
This is a mess that is not going away anytime so. For me the players have the attention of the NFL, its owners and the Nation, now they need to use other platforms (companies and major sponsors) and community engagement to take this very important issue to the next level.