NFL row back on anthem and kneeling policy - now not expected to implement guidelines this season

'The new policy is going to be no policy', ESPN has reported

Ed Malyon
Sports Editor
Sunday 09 September 2018 13:26
Kneeling during the anthem became a widespread protest last season
Kneeling during the anthem became a widespread protest last season

After the issue hung over last year, the NFL was expected to implement a policy on the national anthem (and player conduct surrounding it) ahead of the new season.

But just hours before kick-off on the first NFL Sunday of the year, ESPN reported that the league were not expected to bring in a policy this year as the stances on both sides were "too strong to figure out a compromise."

ESPN's leading NFL reporter, Adam Schefter, reported that "the new policy is going to be no policy" according to league sources.

Players began kneeling during the national anthem after Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers began protesting racial inequality, police brutality, mass incarceration and other issues. As the protests spread among other players and teams throughout the league, it developed into a hot-button political issue.

Donald Trump, in an effort to appeal to his base, called protesting players "sons of bitches" on one of his regular rants against those protesting inequality . Vice president Mike Pence walked out of a game in Indianapolis after players knelt during the anthem, only for it to emerge that Pence's actions were nothing more than a pre-planned stunt to further divide the conversation.

Kaepernick's protests began the anthem protests, he is now suing the NFL for collusion

The NFL had passed a new anthem policy in May as they sought a compromise with players, but those new rules have been put on hold to allow for further talks that aren't scheduled to take place now until early 2019. The Miami Dolphins rowed back on their own anthem policy, which was reported after their code of conduct was leaked in July, that said players could be suspended for up to four games for protesting during the anthem.

While the league has looked to move past the issue and focus on the football, Nike's decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their 30th anniversary 'Just Do It' campaign has brought the subject of protests back into the mainstream just as the season was about to get underway.

President Trump's latest rantings are sure to follow, with such a divisive issue continuing to be a helpful distraction from the White House's far more pressing issues in the Supreme Court, mid-terms and Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian collusion.

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