NFL Players Association Files Grievance Against League Over Anthem Policy

Anthem Protests
AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Citing the First Amendment rights of their players, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) officially filed a grievance against the NFL to protest the recent rule meant to put an end to player protests during the playing of the national anthem.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the NFLPA slammed the league for implementing the rule without first consulting with the union.

“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,” the NFLPA said, according to CBS Sports. “In advance of our filing today, we proposed to the NFL to begin confidential discussions with the NFLPA Executive Committee to find a solution to this issue instead of immediately proceeding with litigation. The NFL has agreed to proceed with those discussions, and we look forward to starting them soon.”

This is similar to the position the union took in May when the rule was announced:

The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values, and patriotism of our League.

The union insists that the rule forcing protesting players to either stand on the sidelines in honor of the national anthem or stay in the locker room if they don’t want to stand, is a violation of the players’ right of free speech.

While the NFLPA supports the players right to protest during games, its main contention is over the lack of consultation about the rule.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.