The NFL has said that players may protest during the anthem. Some teams have, as a practical matter, applied a different approach, discouraging and/or flat-out stating that players will not kneel. Soon, it could be for the teams to formally craft their own policies regarding whether players will be required to stand during the anthem.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that the NFL may give teams the ability to create their own anthem policies.
Dubbed a “compromise” in the report, the NFL Players Association may not see it that way. As explained last month, the NFL gave players the right to protest during the national anthem. The league confirmed that right after Colin Kaepernick began his protests in 2016, and the NFL reiterated that right when the issue hit the fan with a flourish in 2017. Thus, as a matter of labor law, it may be impossible at this point for the NFL to unilaterally change the anthem policy by letting teams decide whether to rescind the players’ league-given right to protest.
Of course, the NFL can change the policy, if it wants. The question would then become whether the NFLPA would fight any change to the policy via the available legal channels, arguing that the issue has morphed into a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
So it’s hardly a compromise to give the teams the power to tell players not to kneel. It could end up instead being a powderkeg, at a time when the issue has largely subsided, but for the pending Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion grievances.