Still looking for a satisfactory policy on player protests during the playing of the national anthem, the NFL may be about ready to leave the decision over the protests to the individual teams.
After two years of demonstrations, the league is still discussing the anthem protests and is apparently preparing to abandon any pretense of control over the issue by leaving the teams free to handle the protests however they want.
“My guess is they will leave it up to the teams,” one league official who wished to remain anonymous told The Washington Post.
Players have been kneeling in protest against the country for two full seasons, and TV ratings have fallen by double digits over the same period. During the 2017 season, the National Football League announced that it would not try to force players to stand during the anthem. But ratings continued to drop as the protests remained pervasive.
Current player rules state that all team members must be on the sidelines during the anthem, but there are no requirements that they to stand for the nation’s song.
But some owners have repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the lenient policy. Among others, owners such as the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, the Cincinnati Bengals’ Mike Brown, and the Houston Texans’ Robert McNair have all expressed a desire to require players to stand in honor for the anthem.
A major force standing in the way of such a policy would be the players’ union, the National Football League Players Association. With the league having essentially given the players the OK to protest, only to turn around and let the teams decide whether or not to allow it would likely become a major issue for the union.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.