While the NFL does everything it can to look bad, the Jets, already looking great after potentially finding their franchise quarterback, have proven that they are ahead of the pack when it comes to handling the dilemma over player protests. Per Bob Glauber , Chris Johnson, the Jets CEO, has stated that he will be paying the fines for any players who continue to protest. With all due respect to Jed York , who abstained from the vote for the new rule, Chris Johnson has set the standard for front offices who want to portray themselves as understanding and who have respect for players rights.
The new anthem rule makes it optional for players to be on the field during the national anthem, but if players choose to be on the field, they are required to stand. Fines will be issued by the league against the club with the protesting player(s), and the Commissioner will impose discipline against league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the anthem. Individual teams can set their own rules on how they will handle protesting players. 
Without addressing the free speech issue, or the fact that the NFLPA was not consulted, or fact that “respect for the flag” is not defined, the new rule ignores the precedent of the past two seasons. When Colin Kaepernick began his protests, it captured the nation’s attention. Other players joined Kaepernick’s protest, and this year, players from across the league joined in. At no point during Kaepernick’s protests did the NFL fine Kaepernick or the 49ers, suspend him, or initiate a rule change. This past season, the owners joined the players on the field, some taking a knee, as a show of support for the players after President Trump wanted the owners or league to “get that son of a bitch off the field.” Albeit for one week, the owners indicated support for the players and their right to freedom of expression.
The league has set a precedent, for the past two years, that anthem protestors will not be punished. Whether it is out of fear of the executive branch, or the owners enjoy spending their time in depositions, the league’s decision is confoundingly difficult to understand. It is only a matter of time before the NFLPA takes legal action.
Image via New York Jets Twitter
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