The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) released a joint statement on Thursday night, vowing to put a hold on the new league rule requiring players on the field to stand for the playing of the national anthem.
The shocking development comes only hours after news leaked that the Miami Dolphins had added a category called “Proper Anthem Conduct,” to their player disciplinary document. The apparent reversal also comes only one week after the NFLPA filed a grievance against the league, in which the union sought a “system arbitration” to prevent the league from giving individual teams from requiring players to stand for the anthem, or disciplining the for refusing to do so.
The statement claims that both the league and the players union are talking and working on a resolution.
According to the joint statement:
The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.
The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice.
Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.
According to the disciplinary measures contained in the leaked report from Miami, Dolphins players could find themselves suspended for as long as four games for disrespecting the anthem. Whether the freeze on the new anthem policy would remove Miami’s ability — or any other team’s ability to discipline their players — remains to be seen. Though, it’s likely the NFL and NFLPA will ensure they reach a joint agreement on a new policy prior to the beginning of the preseason. Making sure that there never comes a time when the league and the teams have different or conflicting policies regarding anthem conduct.
The anthem protest movement in the NFL began in the preseason of 2016, after then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first sat, then knelt during the playing of the national anthem. Despite Kaepernick not having played since the end of the 2016 season, the protest movement he began continued to grow, culminating in Week 3 of the 2017 season when hundreds of players protested the anthem and President Trump.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn