NFL puts the brakes on policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem

NEW YORK -- The NFL can't seem to tackle the protest controversy successfully. In May, the NFL mandated all players must stand for the national anthem and if they didn't, teams could discipline them.

The Miami Dolphins were the first to outline their policy. In a form known as "proper anthem conduct" leaked to the Associated Press on Thursday, players are warned they could be fined and benched for up to four games. 

Soon after that became public, the NFL and the Players Association put the brakes on the entire policy.

"I think we're here because the NFL continues to struggle to figure out how to get its arms around dealing with something so nuanced and so difficult," said CBS Sports national columnist Bill Reiter.

In a joint statement they are now saying: "No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing."

The protests during the national anthem has overshadowed the NFL since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling in August 2016. President Trump fueled the debate throughout last season.

Colin Kaepernick, center, and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on Sept. 12, 2016, in Santa Clara, California.
Colin Kaepernick, center, and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on Sept. 12, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag, to say 'get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired, he's fired,'" Mr. Trump said last year.

Mr. Trump praised the league for the May ruling that players stand. 

But Reiter said the NFL has fumbled this entire controversy.

"I think we are going to see more chaos and anger and more of the same," Reiter said.

Mr. Trump said in a tweet on Friday, "The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again - can't believe it!"