Here is what is found in the NFL Operations Manual as a policy:
“During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition.
It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
So, the liberal argument will be it’s a policy and not a rule. Well, there really isn’t that much of a difference for their arguments.
Rules and policies are both used to guide an employee’s behavior in a certain direction to help achieve goals of the business.
The main difference is that policies are a statement of intent and reflect on the aims and objectives of an organization while rules are made to make sure that there’s no inconvenience to any employee so that they can work with their full efficiency.
Rules are used to enforce a policy. For example, a no smoking policy is enforced with a rule that could have an employee caught violating the policy fired.
The only section that could potentially apply to anthem protests in the rules (not to be confused with the policies) comes under the section on player equipment, uniforms and player appearance. Rule 5, Section 4, Article 8 (found on page 23), deals with “personal messages.” Here’s how that rule begins:
“Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office. Items to celebrate anniversaries or memorable events, or to honor or commemorate individuals, such as helmet decals, and arm bands and jersey patches on players’ uniforms, are prohibited unless approved in advance by the League office.”
Some will claim the rule only applies to wearing items that convey a personal or political message. If they want to claim nothing legally can happen to players who violate the NFL’s policy then the other side can argue that the kneelers are violating not only the NFL policy, but the rule as well, since they are wearing, and arguably using, NFL uniforms while violating the policy. No one would be paying attention to them if they weren’t wearing an NFL uniform.
We’ll have to wait and see how the league continues to handle this, but after the NFL declined to allow the Dallas Cowboys to wear a patch commemorating five Dallas police officers shot by a Black Lives Matter activist, to allow this kind of disrespect for our flag and national anthem, the ratings are showing that the American people see and understand a double standard is taking place.