With Anthem Policy 1.0 scrapped and Anthem Policy 2.0 tabled, the NFL (with the input of the NFL Players Association) is attempting to craft Anthem Policy 3.0. The two parties issued a joint statement after a Friday meeting aimed at resolving the situation.
“A short time ago, the NFL and NFLPA concluded a constructive meeting regarding the anthem policy and the very serious social justice issues that have been the basis of some players’ protests,” the statement explains. “We are encouraged by the discussions and plan to continue our conversations.”
It all sounds very good, but the chances of finding a permanent solution remain slim. Absent anything other than an agreement by the union that all players will stand for the anthem (and absent a commitment by all players not to defy the compromise), the controversy will linger for as long as politicians aimed at politicizing the issue can score points with their base, create a convenient distraction, or both.
Given that the NFL made this mess with the clumsy language of Anthem Policy 1.0, and in light of the reality that the NFL has on multiple occasions reiterated the players’ right to protest during the anthem, the union has the leverage on this one, if the league hopes to ultimately secure an NBA-style outcome where all players always stand for the anthem. Whatever it takes by way of concessions from the NFL, it will take a lot more now than it would have taken 23 months ago, when Colin Kaepernick was first spotted during the anthem.