Many have wondered why the NFL Players Association hasn’t taken an aggressive stand against the league in connection with the application (i.e., misapplication) of its anthem policy by multiple teams. That’s about to change.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL will be pursuing a pair of grievances arising from the anthem issue.
The first grievance, technically a “non-injury grievance” under the labor deal, comes on behalf of safety Eric Reid against the Bengals and all clubs he may have spoken with. This grievance arises from questions posed to Reid by Bengals owner Mike Brown regarding whether he intends to continue to demonstrate during the anthem.
The second grievance seeks a “system arbitration” against the NFL and all teams regarding the league’s failure to enforce the absence of a policy that mandates standing. By allowing, for example, teams to ask players whether they intend to demonstrate as part of pre-employment communications, the NFL is permitting teams to disregard the fact that no league rule prohibits demonstrations. Indeed, the only rule on the books preserves the right of players to demonstrate during the national anthem — and that right was confirmed by the NFL in 2016 and reiterated by the league in 2017.
“Colin and Eric have taken courageous action at the expense of their professional careers and personal lives,” attorney Mark Geragos, who represents both players in a separate collusion grievance, said in a statement. “They did these selfless acts because they wanted to shine light on inequity and oppression. Today they welcome all NFL Players who have joined in the prosecution of the NFL for their conspiracy and illegal acts. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the NFLPA in our fight for justice, equality and inalienable rights of all Americans.”
The NFL is now defending four separate actions arising from its approach to the anthem issue. More could be coming.