The NFL reportedly will not implement a new national anthem policy this season

Patriots Protest Football
Several New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem before a game in 2017. –AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

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No policy is the new policy.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the NFL is not expected to implement a new national anthem policy this season. Though talks surrounding the topic will continue, the divide between the opposing sides of the debate has proved too large to bridge thus far.

The league’s long-standing policy had required players to be on the sideline for the anthem, encouraging but not requiring that they stand. At the owner’s meeting in May, the NFL ratified a new policy — one that left it up to each team to decide whether their players would be disciplined for protesting during the anthem.


That policy lasted until June, when a leaked memo from the Miami Dolphins revealed the team had opened up the possibility for a player to receive a four-game suspension if they protested during the anthem. The resulting firestorm compelled the league to freeze their implementation of the new policy, and now it appears that will not be replaced.

Dozens of NFL players have taken a knee during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality since Colin Kaepernick first knelt in 2016. The league has yet to clarify whether players will face discipline if they choose to do so again this season.