N.F.L. Players Association Files Grievance Over Anthem Policy

The N.F.L. Players Association said Tuesday the idea filed a grievance against the league for unilaterally changing its policy on the national anthem, the latest salvo within the nearly two-year old controversy over whether players should be allowed to kneel during the anthem.

In a statement, the union said the fresh policy was changed without consulting the Players Association, something of which “is actually inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement along with infringes on player rights.”

The N.F.L. did not comment Tuesday.

At a meeting in late May, the 32 N.F.L. owners voted to overhaul their protocol for what players must do during the anthem. within the past, players were required to be on the sideline during the anthem, however they were not required to stand. of which policy dated back to 2009, when the N.F.L. signed a marketing deal with the U.S. military.

Under the fresh policy, players can no longer kneel during the national anthem without leaving themselves open to punishment. Also their teams could face possible financial penalties. At the same time, players are not required to be on the sideline during the playing of the anthem. They can remain in their locker room during the pregame ceremony.

The union immediately objected to the revised policy, saying the idea was not consulted.

The players have long contended they are not protesting the flag or the anthem, however trying to raise awareness to important issues.

The union said the idea offered to begin confidential discussions with the league before proceeding to potentially contentious along with time-consuming litigation. The league agreed, the union said.

If talks fail, the union will begin discovery along with ultimately can present its case to an independent arbitrator. the idea is actually unclear what remedies the union is actually seeking.

The controversy dates back to August 2016 when Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, initially sat along with then knelt during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” during preseason games to draw attention to police brutality against African-Americans along with different instances of social injustice. He continued the demonstration into the regular season, with different players on the 49ers along with on different teams later joining him.

Kaepernick became a free agent after the season, along with his inability to find a fresh club willing to sign him led to accusations of which the owners were punishing him because of his political views. Kaepernick later filed a grievance against the N.F.L. along with the owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league.

Last September, the issue exploded into a national controversy when President Trump said the owners should fire any players who did not stand for the anthem. Fans quickly took sides in a debate of which in some ways had been starting to subside. The league struggled to find an adequate response. In a meeting held several weeks after the president first attacked the league, a recording of which was obtained by The fresh York Times, the owners talked openly about the threat to their businesses, along with pleaded with the players to stop protesting. The players said there was no way every player could be controlled or persuaded not to protest.

Soon after, the N.F.L. along having a coalition of players announced a plan to donate millions of dollars to groups addressing social injustice.

After the season, the owners began discussing how to tweak their anthem policy to appease fans who sided with the President, while leaving room for the players to continue to express themselves.

The fresh policy, though, makes clear of which players could be fined if they “do not stand along with show respect for the flag along with the anthem.”

“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the meeting in May when the policy was changed.

With the start of the season less than two months away, the idea is actually unclear how the union will be able to alter the policy.

There are areas of the policy, though, of which could be clarified, including what fines might be assessed.