The NFL and NFL Players Association made progress on Friday, as they try to hammer out Anthem Policy 3.0. Steelers owner Art Rooney II possibly has provided a glimpse regarding what the new policy will entail.
“Of course everybody wants the players to be standing, including most of the players,” Rooney said in a weekend appearance on NFL Network, via SportsBusiness Daily. “At the end of last season, we were down to just a handful of players that were protesting at the anthem, so the vast majority of players want to be focused on football, don’t want to be getting into politics on the field. If everyone has that mindset, we can work something out.”
And if everyone has that mindset, the end result will be that all players will stand for the anthem, with no protests of any kind. And even if some players don’t like that, the NFL Players Association has the power to bind the full rank and file.
Ultimately, the outcome hinges on the union leadership’s willingness to agree to strip protests out of the anthem, possibly without a major concession from the NFL. If the anthem issue is bad for business (and NFL leadership continues to believe it is), then it’s bad for the players’ broader business interests. In turn, it could be good for the players within the confines of the looming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations to extend a valuable olive branch that both preserves the Golden Goose while also getting the Commander-in-Chief off the NFL’s case, after of course he engages in a protracted victory lap.