President Trump says the National Football League’s (NFL) decision not to punish players for kneeling during the national anthem shows “total disrespect” to the U.S.
The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
The New York Times on Tuesday reported that the NFL will keep letting its employees kneel or sit during “The Star-Spangled Banner” without facing any penalties.
The NFL also pledged during a meeting with players and union representatives in New York City to help support some of the causes protesters are advocating for.
The owner of the Miami Dolphins said that the NFL had made no changes to its policy about the anthem, leaving players free to demonstrate again this weekend.
“I can’t really tell you what people are going to do,” Stephen Ross said after a business meeting of the NFL’s 32 team owners in New York City.
“The league has a policy,” he added when asked if players would keep protesting. “It hasn’t changed.”
The NFL’s rule book never mandated that players stand for the anthem, adding instead they “should” stand for it while appearing on the sideline during the song.
The ambiguity of the rule has made it difficult for the NFL to penalize employees that have knelt or sat during the anthem in recent weeks.
The NFL’s team owners had previously discussed clarifying the rule’s wording to make standing for the tune mandatory.
Scores of NFL coaches, executives and players have knelt during the national anthem since President Trump criticized the gesture last month.
Trump urged the NFL to fire those who perform the gesture, and he has since repeatedly attacked it as unpatriotic.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest America’s racial injustice.
Critics have since described the move as disrespectful to America and its military, while supporters cast it as a valid expression of free speech.
We asked veterans how they really feel about the NFL anthem protests.