In the aftermath of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross saying that his players will stand during the national anthem in 2018 and then backtracking by saying he won’t force them to stand, the NFL Players Association has reminded everyone of the current status of the relationship between management and labor regarding the rights of players to participate in protests.
“Our union is proud of all of our players whenever they express themselves for a bigger purpose,” the union said in a statement. “During this past season, we received assurances from both Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the Management Council, John Mara, that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected. We are glad that both the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins have clarified their positions to be consistent with what was confirmed with our union leadership, and we expect all other NFL teams to maintain the same commitment to protecting those rights.”
The anthem controversy had been dormant for months, but it returned on Monday, via a report from the Houston Chronicle suggesting that the Texans won’t be interested in free agents who were involved in protests. (The Texans strongly disputed the suggestion.) The Monday night comments from Ross led to his effort on Tuesday to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Some believe that the NFL will consider changing the anthem protocol to what it was before players became props in the league’s effort to wrap itself in the flag, having them stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.