Just when you thought that we would finally be done talking about the National Football League and the National Anthem, the NFL Players Association filed a non-injury grievance against the league regarding the National Anthem policy. Now I’m not surprised by this move, I was honestly expecting it weeks ago, but no it seems as the NFLPA wanted to have all their ducks in a row before filing. So what does all this mean?
In case you have forgotten about the NFL’s National Anthem policy, let’s do a quick recap. Back in May the league announced essentially that if players/personnel were on the field for the Anthem they were to stand in respect of the flag or they could stay in the locker room during the anthem. If personnel are on the field and do not stand they will be fined and each individual club can create their own rules on how to deal with personnel that do not want to be on the field during the anthem.
The NFLPA argues in their grievance that players protesting during the anthem is not “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League” like the owners believe it. Instead it’s a form of peaceful demonstrations (which they are) so to allow players to be fined for these demonstrations will set worth a horrible precedent. Especially because the league will use the same powers of punishment for players kneeling that are used to punish players accused of illegal actions.
The NFLPA has the power of the collective bargaining agreement on their side of the argument. The league cannot make decisions that go against the CBA without even consulting the NFLPA, which is honestly what I think the main issue is here. If the NFL and its owners had taken their proposed anthem policy to the NFLPA and they were able to find a common ground between the two, this would be a non-issue.
While it took take months to resolve this grievance the NFLPA also can take the route of challenging the policy in cities or states where there are statutes in place to prohibit employers from instituting rules like the anthem policy.
It looks like we’re gearing up for another season where the National Anthem takes center stage instead of the plays on the field.