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NFL Players Association Challenges League Policy on Kneeling During National Anthem

Add another notch to the timeline of controversy surrounding professional football players kneeling during the national anthem. On Tuesday morning, the NFL Players Association filed a non-injury grievance challenging the policy. It said in a statement that “this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.”

The NFLPA also said in the statement that the NFL agreed to holding discussions to find a solution rather than proceeding with litigation right away.

It all started in 2016, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling to protest racial inequalities and police brutality in 2016. Other NFL players, and soon athletes playing different sports of all levels, joined in. This drew reactions both positive and negative, most notably from Donald Trump, who suggested that kneeling players be fired. In late May 2018, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced a policy requiring any players on the field during the national anthem to stand and allowing the league to fine any teams with players that don’t. The policy allows players to stay in the locker room if they wish not to stand.

According to Sports Illustrated, this policy could result in lost wages for players who kneel, as protesting could lead to fines or suspensions from their team. The policy could also lead teams trying to avoid trouble with the league not to sign players inclined to protest.

Sports Illustrated called it “a policy that allows [the NFL] to indirectly punish protesting players while also allowing teams to directly punish them.”