Today, the 32 NFL owners voted unanimously to approve a new league policy in for what players and team personnel must do during the national anthem. Following that decision, New York Jets chairman Chris Johnson told Newsday that his players will be able to continue to protest without any fear of repercussions from the team.
Under the new policy, players are no longer required to be on the field during the anthem. But, if they are, they will be required to stand or the team faces fines from the league and the teams have the right to implement any fines they see fit in that case. Mr. Johnson told the paper that he's not going to be putting any team fines on the books and he will handle any league fines that come the team's way from any protests.
"I do not like imposing any club-specific rules," Johnson said. "If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we're all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don't want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won't. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that's just something I'll have to bear."
As Newsday points out in their piece, no Jets players took a knee during the national anthem last season, deciding instead to lock arms and stand together. Mr. Johnson has been a vocal critic of any potential requirement for the players to stand as the issue has been debated over the last several months.
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