NFL owners are expected to discuss the league’s policy regarding the national anthem during meetings next week in New York.
The NFL game operations manual says players “should” stand for the national anthem. Changing the “should” to “must” is an option the owners and league could pursue during their meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, said NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart.
“I think there will be a discussion about the entire issue, including the policy … I’m not going to predict what might happen,” Lockhart said.
Lockhart declined to give a definitive answer when asked if owners could force players to stand for the national anthem. He also wouldn’t speculate whether the issue would have to be a collectively bargained between the NFL and the players association.
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“We’re going to do this together as an ownership group and a league with the players,” he said.
The NFL has not weighed in on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ stance that players who “disrespect” the flag during the national anthem would be benched.
“It’s somewhat of a moot point because all of their players have stood,” Lockhart said.
This has been a lingering issue for more than a year since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest racial injustice and police brutality against people of color.
Cowboys defensive linemen David Irving and Damontre Moore raised their fists at the end of the national anthem in last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
Owner Jerry Jones made it clear after Sunday’s game that he and the organization would not tolerate any players “disrespecting the flag” during the anthem. He became the first owner to declare consequences for players who kneel during the anthem.
Coach Jason Garrett said Irving and Moore would not face discipline for their actions because they happened after the anthem had been played.
“I think everyone at this point is frustrated by this situation,” Lockhart said. “The commissioner and the owners do want the players to stand.”