NFL owners approve new policy regarding players on-field protests

- NFL owners have approved a new policy aimed at addressing the firestorm over players protests.

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The new policy would allow the league to fine individual clubs if players or other personnel do not stand during the national anthem. 

Players would be permitted to stay in the locker room during the "The Star-Spangled Banner" but requires them to stand if they come to the field.

The decision was announced Wednesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the league's spring meeting at the Whitley Hotel in Buckhead. 

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In a statement, Goodell said that the policy was approved "in concert with the NFL's ongoing commitment to local communities and our country." 

Any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team -- not the players. 

The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue, which triggered debates nationwide and received criticism from President Trump. 

The NFL released the full policy in a statement:

The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.  

The membership also strongly believes that:

1.  All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not 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.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

The policy comes in wake of the protests that were started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

During the 2016-2017 NFL season, Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem as part of a protest against police brutality and racial inequities. The move was later adopted by his teammate at the time Eric Reid, and other players.

The National Football Leagues Players Association [NFLPA] said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.

The NFLPA released the following statement regarding the policy: 

 "The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new 'policy.' NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about." 

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