With multiple players from multiple teams protesting during the anthem on Thursday night, the NFL has issued a statement confirming that the players won’t be disciplined — even though the policy technically was violated.
“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans,” the league said in a statement. “While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.
“Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL’s policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.
“We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities.”
To summarize, the policy adopted in May remains in effect. However, players won’t be disciplined by their teams for violating the policy.
Implicit in this explanation is the apparently reality that teams can be fined by the NFL if players fail to comply with the new policy. The teams can’t in turn fine or suspend the players.