Take a Knee
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New NFL Rules: Serious Penalties if Teams Take a Knee

Athletes in Motion
Athletes in Motion
October 10, 2017
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Hopefully this will squash an issue that has brought so much divisiveness and angst towards our fellow citizens. The NFL has quietly changed its rule about what should and should not take place during the National Anthem. Jerry Jones who just took part in the take a knee drama with his team before the national anthem in the wake of the President's comments, said that he was “reminded” of a policy in the handbook for club members of the NFL.

Take a Knee

“The 2014 policy reads that failure to be on the field by the start of the national anthem may “result in disciplinary action from the League office.” The version currently being used by the NFL revises this to read “result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violation of the above, including first offenses.” Missing draft picks, player suspensions and fines all for the take a knee movement? We don't see a lot of owners allowing this to happen.Later this afternoon Roger Goodell released a press statement regarding the National Anthem protests, stating that, in essence, everyone should be standing for the National Anthem. If you read the entire press release, it states that the NFL, owners and players have all had conversations about what these protests meant and how to appropriately address them in their communities. It’s an olive branch, sort of. Although Goodell is telling players to stand he is also admitting that the protests have had an effect on bringing about change. https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/917811339858505728The question remains though, can the NFL punish clubs and players for not standing? As seen with Jamele Hill’s comments, a private employer can do as they please regarding your employment if they don’t feel you’re representing a company in the light they’d like to be viewed in. Is the NFL a private entity though? Yes and no. While the NFL is a business, the fact is they receive a lot of public funding for stadiums (tax dollars). During a federal lawsuit, precedent was set that indicated that professional sports teams are entities due to various subsidies and lease agreements with the city. So the answer to the question of if the NFL can punish players or teams, the answer is a definite maybe. This one would probably come down to the skill of the lawyers involved and not the actual law.Players looking for protection may not have to look further than the collective bargaining agreement set forth by the NFLPA (NFL Players Association). However there is a clause stating that a player may be punished for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.” So again things are murky at best. The players would enter arbitration and likely settle rather than hash things out in court. Seems like an awful lot of bother just to get players to stop the take a knee drama.

Take a Knee

The whole situation is convoluted with competing interests and extreme emotional appeals and there seems to be no way around it other than the NFL making an executive decision either way. The NFL will live and die supporting one of the two actions because they can’t seem to appease both sides. Is the take a knee issue over, or is this just another step in making it a bigger deal? You decide.

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