NFL owners have approved a national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer, it was announced Wednesday.
Here is reaction from around the league:Cleveland Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor: "To make a decision that strong, you would hope that the players have input on it. But obviously not. So we have to deal with it as players, for good or a bad thing. At the end of the day they call the shots, make the rules, so that's what we have to abide by. I think the main thing out of all of it is that each ball club is having open communication with the players and ownership about the issues that are going on in the community and trying to change it. I know that [the Browns] and even the team that I came from in Buffalo, they have been proactive about the situation and trying to do things in the community. So I think that should be the focus now and hopefully it is moving forward."
Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer: "I was proud of my team last year. They stood for the anthem. I think it's important that we stand for the anthem. I think it's important that we represent our country the right way, the flag the right way. I probably shouldn't get on a tangent, right? But a lot of people have died for that flag, and that flag represents our country and what we stand for. I think that's important. I'll stop there."
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee: "This team did a good job last year staying unified, understanding that we're teammates and brothers, and that we have to respect each other's opinions, and that they're going to be different and that we're not always going to agree. ... On the anthem issue, wasn't a big deal last year after the debate before the Arizona game. I think we did all get on the same page. I think Mr. [Jerry] Jones did a great job leading to that and understanding that we took a knee for social injustice, and at the same time we stood for the anthem."Washington Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger: “I didn’t know about it. I don’t get into none of that. To each his own with that. You want to stand out, stand out; you want to stand in, stand in. But everyone should have their right.”
New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said to Newsday: "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."
Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy: "We'll talk it through. From what I was told, there were no issues with this team last year, which is great. We'll communicate it, we'll talk it out and we'll make sure we're listening to everybody and trying to do the right thing as much as we can. I know it's a touchy subject, but I feel confident we'll do it together."
Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe: "That’s probably the best way to do it. The NBA has been doing it for 20 years, and they haven't had an issue, right? ... I'm going to stand for the national anthem. I think I've made that clear, so whatever anybody else wants to do, that's their decision. They have a right to their opinion; they can do whatever they want."
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan: "We all want the same thing -- respect for our nation and the flag, the focus on our game and a pledge to advancing social justice that will be absolute and stand the test of time. I believe we're closer to that today, and I know that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be committed to those ideals this season and into the future."
"Appropriate respect for flag and anthem" implies that guys were being disrespectful towards it. Which is an opinion. Most people who believe that ignore the responses from the players and more importantly why men chose to protest. https://t.co/j7nyw2Lkai— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) May 23, 2018
Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich: "Obviously we're keeping an eye on everything. Everything matters. Everything is important. So the league comes down with a decision. We'll deal with that as an organization when we have a chance to get together to develop our thinking and philosophy on it."
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott: "I'm glad they came to an agreement in some form or another. I'll be out there standing."
Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry: "I've always taken that time anyway to pray, and I've always respected the flag, so that really has nothing to do with me."
A statement from Bills Owner and President Kim Pegula. pic.twitter.com/ifBRsHzZNk— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) May 23, 2018
Redskins cornerback Josh Norman: "[President Donald Trump speaking out and more players protesting] happened ... but I don't know if that's still going to take place or what's going to happen. Who knows? I don't."
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence: "I feel like I'm not an owner ... yet, so I can't make none of those rules. I've just got to abide by them. It's still a business at the end of the day, so it is what it is."Vikings defensive end Brian Robison: "I love this country that I've grown up in, that I'm a part of. I think we have the greatest country in the world. For me, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to stand up for the flag, but at the same time our military has fought for those freedoms to allow those guys to have that decision [to kneel, etc.]. Whether we agree or disagree with their decision doesn't matter. That's not part of it. That's their freedom to do what they want to do."
Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho: "I don't think anything really changes at this point. Right? Obviously, NFLPA goes back and says, 'OK, what do we do now? As a union, what do we do? How will we respond?' But, to be honest, I think a lot of players are happy about the conversations that are happening. So the protest served their purpose."
Broncos center Matt Paradis: "I can speak for myself: I'll be out there, standing for the anthem. When it comes to the team policy, that's something as a team we'll have to get into that. The union, the same thing. We'll have to consult with them. ... The owners, they are the employers, so if they want to create a stipulation, we'll take it from there."
Cowboys receiver Tavon Austin: "That's up to the individual. I'm the type of person that I respect the people that's over there fighting for us. Whoever want to sit down, that's on them. Whoever want to stand up, same to them too. I'm the type of person that I believe in what I believe in, and I stand on it."
Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin to 710 ESPN Seattle: "I'm not surprised, honestly. The NFL cares about one thing, and that's the NFL, that's the NFL's bottom line. I may be privy to some different information because I've been in conversations with Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent and the leadership of the NFL in regards to the Players Coalition and what we're trying to get out of that. So honestly, I'm not surprised. I'm disappointed. I will say that, because the conversations I've had with Roger, that I've had with Troy Vincent, these guys that you really put your heart out there and say, 'Look, we're trying to do something good for the communities that we represent, that represent us,' and it just felt like again, there was a lack of understanding. To me, this just further punctuates the tone-deafness or the disconnect between the NFL and its players."
Freedom of speech does not exist for NFL players now, we get fined for protesting for something we believe in, FINE ME!!!! You can't change my opinion, and can't stop my protest I have a right as an American to protest when I feel there is injustice in this country.— Dawuane Smoot (@Bigsmoot_94) May 23, 2018
Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea: "I still don't like it. You're going to fine guys for really expressing how they feel. I mean I think that's kind of backwards but it is what it is. They gave the option for guys to stay in the locker room so I think it just comes to a point where now it depends on the clubs, however they're going to handle it and depends on the individuals, how they see fit. You're going to have some guys that are going to stay in the locker room and then it's just a matter of just seeing if guys will come out and take a knee still. I just don't like the fact that you're going to fine guys for really expressing what they believe in. But, you know, players really don't get too much say so in matters like this."
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay: "I, along with Colts players and employees, remain committed to utilizing our unique platform to address social issues and community ills in a positive manner. The NFL's new anthem policy and corresponding statement reinforces that commitment and our patriotism should never be in doubt."
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie: "I have always believed it is the responsibility of sports teams to be very proactive in our communities. In this great country of ours, there are so many people who are hurting and marginalized, which is why I am proud of our players for continuously working to influence positive change. Their words and actions have demonstrated not only that they have a great deal of respect for our country, but also that they are committed to finding productive ways to fight social injustice, poverty and other societal issues that are important to all of us. We must continue to work together in creative and dynamic ways to make our communities stronger and better with equal opportunities for all."
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