Unsurprisingly, the NFL’s national anthem policy is already facing backlash from players in the league. On Wednesday, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins sounded off on the newly-implemented rule, which wasn’t even run by the league’s Players’ Association before the official announcement was made.
"What NFL owners did today was thwart the players' constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country," Jenkins said, per TMZ. "Everyone loses when voices get stifled [...] While I disagree with this decision, I will not let it silence me or stop me from fighting."
As part of the league’s new national anthem policy, players are required to either stand for the anthem prior to a game, or stay in their locker room. If a player comes out for the anthem and kneels, their team would be fined, and commissioner Roger Goodell would “impose appropriate discipline."
Whether or not the league’s national anthem policy effectively brings player protests to an end, Jenkins says he’s proud of the work done by his peers to spark a conversation about social injustice in today’s society.
"The national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the past 2 years will persist as we continue to use our voices, our time and our money to create a more fair and just criminal justice system, end police brutality and foster better educational and economic opportunities for communities of color and those struggling in this country," he said.
Jets acting owner and chairman Christopher Johnson has, however, already publicly stated that he would pay the fine for any of his players who kneel during the national anthem next season. "I do not like imposing any club-specific rules," Johnson said, according to Bob Glauber of 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."