NFL, NFLPA talks over anthem policy come two years too late

Getty Images

The non-injury grievance filed by the NFL Players Association against the NFL over the league’s new anthem policy could result in an arbitrator rolling things back to the way they were before May. The discussions between the union and the league over the issue could lead to something even more significant: A permanent solution to the problem.

But here’s the problem with that: It should have happened two years ago.

The moment that Colin Kaepernick was spotted sitting during the anthem before a preseason game and the NFL acknowledged that the policy it created encouraged but didn’t require players to stand, the NFL should have engaged the NFLPA to come up with a new policy. But the NFL presumably didn’t want to have to make any concessions to fix the problem that it (i.e., one of its lawyers) created by using the word “should” instead of “must” before “stand.”

If someone had had the foresight in August 2016 to realize how the situation could unravel for the league, the concession would have been made then. Because now the union is in position to leverage an even greater concession — especially if the grievance prevails.

And the grievance could prevail. The argument is that the right to protest existed (as created and reiterated by the league) before May, and that the league took that employee right away without engaging in bargaining.

Remember when a couple of reporters working for the NFL tried to call the new policy a “compromise“? Remember the reaction that there can be no “compromise” if the players are shut out of the process? The grievance, if successful, will force the league to make the compromise that didn’t happen in May, that should have happened in August 2016, and that needs to happen if the league wants to solve this problem once and for all.

33 responses to “NFL, NFLPA talks over anthem policy come two years too late

  1. and that needs to happen if the league wants to solve this problem once and for all.
    —————————————

    I have news for you, it’s been solved by the country full of paying customers.

  2. The union can fight for the right to protest and probably will bargain that into the new cba. But the fans have spoken loud and clear. If players continue to kneel a large part of the fans will be pissed off and the NFL will lose money. No win situation.

  3. I think Florio hits the nail on the head on all but one point. First of all, there is no “fix” to situations where there are shades of grey, which is the free speech issue. Look at the “conservative” owners saying keep politics out of the sport, while they voice their support for “conservative” policies and people that push those policies. I am NOT being critical of that, just the hypocrisy. People tend to get more “conservative” with age AND with wealth. Now to agree with Florio… of course their was no compromise and no vote and the reporting on it at the time proves the NFL leadership was and is a joke. And you can always find some parrot to report the official line until the TRUTH comes out. And the “liberal media” gets blamed for “spin” when it is nothing but a lie from the beginning. Florio’s legal background doesn’t make him right all the time but provides a great perspective in real time of what some of these scoundrels are trying to put over on the public. I think the old players in the locker room policy may be the best approach because I personally don’t want to see someone looking uncomfortable being made to do something they don’t want to do.

  4. Just ask the players if they enjoy those high salaries?? Vet minimum is what, $500K?

    Should you do something that drives away customers??? Hmmmmmm

    Its that simple.

  5. Since they filed a grievance, I assume they plan to continue protesting the national anthem for a third year in front of the fans and television cameras in 2018? Are they really this stupid?

  6. I’m literally melting here. Can’t these buttercups stop hurting my precious delicate little fragile feelings. It’s not like I have the power to actually ignore them.

    We need policy to stop them.

  7. If the NFL can grant the right, they can revoke it. That right was not part of the CBA.

  8. redlikethepig says:
    July 11, 2018 at 7:59 am
    If they would just obey their corporate overlords this would all be fine.

    ———————
    If you consider the massive rewards those players get from those “corporate overlords” I want me a “corporate overlord” too. What does he want in return for those rewards? I’ll do it. I’ll stand, sit, kneel, stand on my hands. I will do most anything and those few things I wouldnt do I fully understand I dont have to, I am free to pass on getting paid for anything I dont want to do.

  9. I agree with the premise that the league’s wishy washy response is what hurt them the most. They needed to meet with the players union immediately and work out a clear and unambiguous policy right away. Instead they let things linger for years. While kneeling was allowed, they lost customers who believe that was a wrong decision. When they came up with the new “no kneeling; stay in the locker room instead” rule this spring, they then lost a bunch of people who feel kneeling should be allowed. So instead of alienating one group of fans, they’ve alienated two. Not smart business.

  10. The obvious solution is to have teams remain the locker room and not take the field until after the displaying of the flag and playing of the anthem. It is a pre-game ceremony, after all, for fan enjoyment and participation.

    There is some question as to whether or not teams remaining in the locker room would violate the contract the NFL entered with the US Military in the ’90s to show solidarity with the troops fighting overseas during the first Iraq War. What are the stipulations in that contract for teams showing solidarity with the troops? I don’t know, but could not a team representative, say the mascot or a sergeant-at-arms (create the position if necessary) be on the sidelines?

    Unless there is some requirement in the contract that players be on the sidelines, the show of solidarity is undermined by the NFL guidelines that state they “should” stand during the ceremony. What a mess is created by the improper use of an auxiliary verb.

    That said, the sidelines and the field are a professional setting and thus no place for a public protest against government policy, police brutality or any other social issue for that matter. There are plenty of other venues for players to perform protests and express grievances on issues that have absolutely nothing to do with football.

    It’s not a question of 1st amendment rights. That’s a red herring. Neither the government nor the league is in anyway infringing on the players’ right to free speech. It’s a question of venue. Hey, private citizens who want to hold a rally or a march in protest of whatever have to first get a permit from civil authorities to stage their event in a public setting, in a park, on the streets or at city hall. Their right to free speech is not being infringed upon, but they have no right to disrupt civic activity, block traffic, disrupt businesses and generally cause problems for everyone else. You want to protest? Fine, stage your event here. You are not being denied a venue, but permitted one. It is not up to citizens where they can stage protests, it is up to civil authorities. Nor is it up to players where they can stage protests, it is up to league authorities.

    If players must be on the sidelines, as per the contract with the military, then have them stand respectfully during the ceremony. Otherwise, leave them in the looker room and avoid controversy altogether.

  11. “The argument is that the right to protest existed (as created and reiterated by the league) before May, and that the league took that employee right away without engaging in bargaining.”

    The key phrase here is “right to protest” and in the ‘not thinking it all the way through’ drpartment these guys are thinking this only means ‘their protests’.

    First off a precedent the league can bring up is how they were allowed to deny completely and right or permission for the players that wanted to protest the killing of police. This went totally unchallenged, the NFLPA was fine with it. Some will say false comparison based on their personal bias but really when the only difference is protests you agree with vs ones you dont that is not false comparison at all. (Understood anyone too consumed with a sense of righteousness will struggle to gradp that)

    Second, if the players win this and protests on the sidelines (lets face it, its the tv cameras they want) become allowed then players with conservative values can at the same time promote their own causes. I think the (predominately liberal) base that wants protests allowed would suddenly be very opposed to allowing that. So before carrying this fight please be careful what you wish for. And also keep in mind that freedom of speech means all speech, not just your speech. (Conservatives need to remember this too btw)

    Without taking sides in which protests I would like or not like I would instead submit that both the fans and the NFL are better off just throwing them all out and let this be nothing more than just a sporting event that is just about sports.

  12. Commentary such as this would come from a lawyer…not someone who actually played or coached the game. Such as it is though, I’ll agree with Florio on one point. The arbitration regarding kneeling, sitting, or protesting in general should have been addressed in 2016….but by fining and suspending Kaep for “violation of the public image on the Shield”. If Goodell would have had a pair then, we wouldn’t be constantly rehashing this issue…again and again. Like most NFL fans, I sure do miss the steady hand of Paul Taglibue.

  13. “If you consider the massive rewards those players get from those “corporate overlords” I want me a “corporate overlord” too.”

    You have one… several in fact … you just don’t know it.

  14. liberalsruineverything says:

    I think Florio hits the nail on the head on all but one point. First of all, there is no “fix” to situations where there are shades of grey, which is the free speech issue. Look at the “conservative” owners saying keep politics out of the sport, while they voice their support for “conservative” policies and people that push those policies. I am NOT being critical of that, just the hypocrisy.
    ####

    There is no hypocrisy.

    The owners are not doing it during the national anthem just before the game is about to start – they are making there personal feelings known away from the football field.

    You are attempting to compare apples and oranges – and your coming up with a lemon of an idea.

  15. “The argument is that the right to protest existed (as created and reiterated by the league) before May, and that the league took that employee right away without engaging in bargaining.”
    ===================================

    WRONG. The right DID NOT EXIST as stated under NFL Rule 5, Section 4, Article 8 – Personal Messages:

    “Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), PLAYERS ARE PROHIBITED from wearing, displaying, or otherwise CONVEYING PERSONAL MESSAGES either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office.”

    The NFL Rulebook is NOT negotiated under the CBA. There is NO bargaining element to the document.

  16. gawainsghost says:
    July 11, 2018 at 9:46 am
    The obvious solution is to have teams remain the locker room and not take the field until after the displaying of the flag and playing of the anthem
    —————————————
    Why can every other sport in America handle the anthem with respect except NFL players? Every sport in the world plays their anthem before large events and the NFL is the only group of people that have to turn this time of country unity into a devisive act.

  17. outlaw53 says:
    July 11, 2018 at 9:57 am
    Commentary such as this would come from a lawyer…not someone who actually played or coached the game. Such as it is though, I’ll agree with Florio on one point. The arbitration regarding kneeling, sitting, or protesting in general should have been addressed in 2016….but by fining and suspending Kaep for “violation of the public image on the Shield”. If Goodell would have had a pair then, we wouldn’t be constantly rehashing this issue…again and again. Like most NFL fans, I sure do miss the steady hand of Paul Taglibue.
    —————————————-

    Kaep was not fined or suspended he was just blacklisted by the corporate overlords

  18. “The argument is that the right to protest existed (as created and reiterated by the league) before May, and that the league took that employee right away without engaging in bargaining.”
    Show me where the players EVER had the “right” to protest while doing their job….. Just because it was allowed does NOT mean that there existed a “right” to do so. Please stop saying that because the owners chose not to punish players for kneeling (if they so felt the need) that they some how forfeited their right, under contract, to punish players for actions detrimental to the game. And yes, players kneeling has been detrimental to the game. There is a time and place for everything and player protests during game time festivities is NOT the time for players to protest.

  19. here’s what the NFL needs to do: you will not kneel for the anthem or you’ll be punished. Oops, that already happened. Nothing to see here Florio. Unions are stupid.

  20. outlaw53 says:
    July 11, 2018 at 9:57 am
    Commentary such as this would come from a lawyer…not someone who actually played or coached the game. Such as it is though, I’ll agree with Florio on one point. The arbitration regarding kneeling, sitting, or protesting in general should have been addressed in 2016….but by fining and suspending Kaep for “violation of the public image on the Shield”. If Goodell would have had a pair then, we wouldn’t be constantly rehashing this issue…again and again. Like most NFL fans, I sure do miss the steady hand of Paul Taglibue.

    ———————-
    In defense of the NFL everyone knew in those days that Karpernick was simply sulking over getting benched and the initial social causes argument was just a ploy to pressure his team to give him back something he couldn’t seem to earn. In such cases thats just like dealing with a spoiled child its better to just ignore their games and ho about normal business without justifying them with any response or acknowlegement.

    What exploded was after because buried in all Kaepernick laid out (mostly nobsense) was something that is a true and genuine matter that we should be concerned about. This got picked up by many players and these guys were not sulking at all, they were quite sincere. But the fly in that ointment was the means of protest. That should have been easily resolvable by shifting the protest to a form that no one could argue about. But unfortunately everyone dug in on that means of protest and the discussion became about that and the social problem that it should have been. Nowadays everything you read is not about those social problems, the protesters are fixated on wanting to do it just that one way and the anti protesters are against that one way. Its a shame really, if this thing could have move away from the anthem question it could have grown into some real good that the country needs. And at the same time moved away from (outgrew and became bigger) the NFL and then would not be a problem in the lap of the front office of what is actually a sports league.

  21. redlikethepig says:
    July 11, 2018 at 10:03 am
    “If you consider the massive rewards those players get from those “corporate overlords” I want me a “corporate overlord” too.”

    You have one… several in fact … you just don’t know it.

    ——————+
    Actually I do know it. I have even been cashing the checks.

  22. How about NFL perform the anthem at halftime? See how many folks thirsty for beer or feeling the urge to purge said beer will stand at attention with hand over heart, cap removed and sing loudly. My guess is very few.

  23. footballpat says:
    July 11, 2018 at 10:10 am
    outlaw53 says:
    July 11, 2018 at 9:57 am
    Commentary such as this would come from a lawyer…not someone who actually played or coached the game. Such as it is though, I’ll agree with Florio on one point. The arbitration regarding kneeling, sitting, or protesting in general should have been addressed in 2016….but by fining and suspending Kaep for “violation of the public image on the Shield”. If Goodell would have had a pair then, we wouldn’t be constantly rehashing this issue…again and again. Like most NFL fans, I sure do miss the steady hand of Paul Taglibue.
    —————————————-

    Kaep was not fined or suspended he was just blacklisted by the corporate overlords
    ______________________
    Remember when he walked away from those millions with the 49’ers?
    Ah…….good times.

  24. footballpat says:
    July 11, 2018 at 10:10 am
    outlaw53 says:
    July 11, 2018 at 9:57 am
    Commentary such as this would come from a lawyer…not someone who actually played or coached the game. Such as it is though, I’ll agree with Florio on one point. The arbitration regarding kneeling, sitting, or protesting in general should have been addressed in 2016….but by fining and suspending Kaep for “violation of the public image on the Shield”. If Goodell would have had a pair then, we wouldn’t be constantly rehashing this issue…again and again. Like most NFL fans, I sure do miss the steady hand of Paul Taglibue.
    —————————————-

    Kaep was not fined or suspended he was just blacklisted by the corporate overlords

    ——————
    We can agree to dusagree on any blacklisting or if he just isnt worth thr trouble that emerged or money he asked when teams talked to him.

    But this latest buzzphrase ‘corporate overlord’ is cracking me up. Do you guys seriously walk around work referring to your management as corporate overlords? Or do you simply call them management? Or Steve? Do you show your disdain by refusing to cash the checks or do you accept them with a smile and immediately start working to earn the next one? Or do you treat the checks as an entitlement there is no need to earn?

  25. They’re shooting themselves in the foot, I’m taking a teaching job this year and requested to work sunday so I won’t be watching NFL, just college on Saturday.

  26. What I don’t understand is the NFLPA position and that they are trying to push through the ability to protest by kneeling during the anthem.
    What have we seen since they started kneeling? Massive vitriol from fans which has resulted in fewer viewers, fewer attendees at games and a decrease in apparel sales across the US. Fans did not buy the BS that it wasn’t disrespectful to the flag. Not when their leader Kaep said he cannot stand for a flag and show pride for a country that oppresses people of color. Not surprisingly, this idiotic comment failed to recognize that flags and countries do not oppress. People do. Oops….
    If all these guys do is whine about making more money and how they are underpaid why the hell would they want to force this kneeling issue for about 10 guys?
    Fans aren’t going to get on board with their agenda. That’s never gonna happen. Not with this platform. They will continue to find other modes of entertainment on Sundays and that revenue pie will continue to shrink. Consequently, their salaries will shrink.
    Now, we know that the vast majority of these players failed to major in finance at their respective schools but they should expect more from their leadership. The NFLPA should help them from hurting themselves. Ah, hold on a second. I forgot that D Smith is leading them.
    Never mind, they are screwed….

  27. Florio writes: “And the grievance could prevail. The argument is that the right to protest existed (as created and reiterated by the league) before May, and that the league took that employee right away without engaging in bargaining.”

    That’s not how it works. If the rule falls under management rights, the league is not obligated to bargain over it. That is true whether it is a new rule or a change to an existing rule.

    Furthermore, the league never granted a right to protest. Rather, they simply did not have a rule that addressed this particular method of protesting. That too is a significant difference.

    As I’ve stated before, I don’t think the union really thinks it can win this one. They are just trying to exert pressure so they can have a say in the final rule (assuming its not already final).

  28. Kneel and lose a game check. The players will quickly find a different way to protest their injustices. Owners are “overlords”. It’s their business to be run however they seem fit. Including ignoring the NFLPA.

  29. The NFL employees don’t like our country very much, at least Americans now know and they can decide themselves how to spend their Sunday’s. Saturday is now our families football day. Sunday is everything but football, a drastic change from the past. NFL Emplyees, we FIRED You!

  30. Trying to stop the players from protesting makes the NFL part of the problem, not the solution.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!