KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The NFL is taking a stand against players taking a knee. The league announced a new policy today banning National Anthem protests for the most part. The controversy started in 2016 with one player, taking a stand, by taking a knee.
"You had Kap who decided to take on the system and he did and it got people talking," Christi Grauel recalled.
By 2017, though Colin Kaepernick was out of the league, his messages condemning racial intolerance had taken hold on NFL sidelines including the Kansas City Chiefs, where players kneeled or stood in solidarity with their teammates.
Today the NFL came out with a policy it says it supported by all 32 teams mandating all team and league personnel on the field stand and respect the flag. Players will now also be given an option to remain in the locker room. Players who continue to protest publicly will face league discipline and their teams will be fined.
Chiefs players have seemed mostly silent on the issue so far on social media, but local fans have plenty of opinions.
"Good job taking away a person’s right to free speech, a tenant that America was built on," Renee Dugas Davis responded to a FOX4 Facebook post.
Eva Bledsoe agreed with the new policy but said, “I don’t know if it’s too late. Really lost respect for the NFL and the players, the thrill is gone.”
Whether they support the policy or not, most fans think it will accomplish the NFL’s goal of focusing on football.
“I think they will stay in the locker room I just think the kneeling was their way of showing it, but now they have another," Katy Williamson said.
“The NFL is a business. I would assume like anything else they are going to have their rules and their regulations, if you don’t follow it you don’t get to participate or you got fined," Joey Smith said.
The NFL Players Association issued the following statement about the new anthem policy:
The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.
The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.
Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.