Update: The NFL announced Wednesday it will require all players to “stand and show respect for the flag” during the national anthem.
The National Football League will require all players to “stand and show respect for the flag” during the national anthem before games — or else stay off the field until the song ends.
The new policy was adopted Wednesday, the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement. Players who refuse to stand for the anthem “may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed,” Goodell said.
After a wave of national anthem protests, which were started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, owners of the NFL reportedly met Tuesday to discuss how to address how the league will handle players kneeling during the national anthem going forward.
Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem throughout the 2016-2017 NFL season as a way to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
The hotly contested move started a trend that swept across the league in 2016 and ’17. Hundreds of players began kneeling during the 2017 season and triggered fierce debates across the country and criticism from President Trump.
The league moved to pay nearly $100 million to social justice causes supported by some players, despite critics’ claims that it was meant purely to appease activist athletes.
Kaepernick and Eric Reid are currently suing the league with the two unsigned free agents, alleging that NFL teams colluded to keep them unemployed.
NFL players reportedly defended Kaepernick and slammed league owners during an October meeting in New York City, demanding to know why the former 49ers player was, they believed, being blackballed.