NFL announces new policy on players' anthem protests

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NFL announces new policy on players' anthem protests

ATLANTA  — NFL owners approved a new policy Thursday aimed at addressing the firestorm over national anthem protests, permitting players to stay in the locker room during the "The Star-Spangled Banner" but requiring them to stand if they come to the field.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by the owners at their spring meeting in Atlanta, but it was met with immediate skepticism by the players' union.

"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand," Goodell said. "That's all personnel, and to make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something that we think we owe. We've been very sensitive on making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on."

In a sign that players were not part of the discussions, any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team — not the players.

The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.

The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue — which has reached all the way to the White House.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.

Other players took up the cause, and the gesture carried on during the 2017 season even after Kaepernick left the 49ers and failed to land a job with another team.

President Trump turned the anthem protests into a campaign issue, saying the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner." The NFL hasn't gone that far, but Kaepernick has yet to land another job and one of his former teammates and fellow protesters, safety Eric Reid, is also out of work.

Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.

While the owners touted the change as a compromise and noted it was approved unanimously, the players' union made it clear it was not part of the discussions.

"The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new 'policy,'" the NFLPA said in a statement. "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 statement added, "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 (co-owner of the New York Giants) about the principles, values and patriotism of our League."

© 2018 by The Associated Press.

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Kraft to give deposition in Kaepernick case

Kraft to give deposition in Kaepernick case

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is one of several NFL owners, coaches and executives who have - or in Kraft's case, will - give a deposition in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL, TMZ Sports reports.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll have also been questioned. Kaepernick was present earlier this week for Elway and McNair’s depositions. 

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers QB, is pursuing a grievance, via the league’s collective bargaining agreement, that claims the NFL colluded to keep him out of the league after he became the first player to protest racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games.

Kaepernick, 30, did not get any NFL job offers last season.

Kraft was at a meeting between owners and NFL players where Kaepernick and the players’ protest were discussed last fall. 

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Shut up and dribble? 'That's ridiculous' says Jaylen Brown

Shut up and dribble? 'That's ridiculous' says Jaylen Brown

BOSTON – LeBron James has not been the least bit coy about his thoughts on President Trump, which makes James not all that different than, you know, most citizens of this country.

There are those from all walks of life who think he’s done a lousy job while others like the job he’s done thus far.

Apparently, James’ thoughts on the president should not be expressed, at least that’s the sentiment of Fox commentator Laura Ingraham who believes James should “shut up and dribble” after James and Kevin Durant had some not-so-flattering comments about President Trump.

When made aware of Ingraham’s response to James’ comments, the Celtics' Jaylen Brown didn’t mince words in expressing how he felt on the matter.

“That’s ridiculous,” Brown said of Ingraham’s “shut up and dribble” comment. “That’s the kind of notion that’s been occurring over the last 10, 15 years and in this generation, we’re trying to change that. You got athletes who are politicians, venture capitalists, musicians, rappers, etc., so it’s becoming more of a popular thing to have other interests outside of basketball. I think that’s normal. Just like people, they have day jobs, but they have interests in sports; they’re into investments, they do all these other types of things.”

Indeed, James is just one of the growing number of professional athletes who are voicing their opinions on social concerns more often in what they perceive as the landscape of this country changing...and not for the better.

But in speaking out on what some athletes believe are problems in our nation that they believe are connected with the current president, there is the potential alienation of fans, which could potentially damage a player’s image in the eyes of some, as well as their brand.

Ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested what he believed was increasing social injustice and police brutality by taking a knee while the national anthem played.

Kaepernick’s action set into motion a movement that saw other NFL players take a similar stance.

Still, it has come at a cost for Kaepernick, who was not signed by any NFL team even after a number of teams had multiple injuries at quarterback, which has led to Kaepernick filing a lawsuit against the NFL for alleged collusion.

Seeing how quickly Kaepernick’s playing career stalled, players who voice their support for reform for various social issues run the risk of having a similar outcome to their respective careers.

Brown recalls various basketball camps, in addition to media training sessions, leading up to the 2016 NBA draft, where he was warned about the potential fallout if he took on certain political and social issues.

“They almost teach you to be...not say anything that will get you any backlash or not saying anything out of the norm,” Brown said. “What you’re saying could be true to yourself, but ‘don’t say anything about politics, don’t say anything that is on the line or anything that’s on the fence because you can get backlash for it.’”

Brown added, “As an athlete, if you’re educated on a topic and believe something, I feel like it should be okay to say it.”

There’s a certain responsibility that Brown, 21, believes comes with the platform that he and his fellow NBA players have at their disposal, a position he does not take lightly.

And in his time around other NBA players, he’s found that they too are more thoughtful about issues such as politics and social issues, than they are given credit for.

Part of that involves a long-standing narrative that NBA players and professional athletes in general, are more consumed by their respective sports than real-life issues and concerns that don’t involve sports.

That’s why when it comes to chiming in on social issues and topics of the day, Brown has a pretty simple rule on deciding which issues to speak about.  

“The ones you know about,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. If you’re informed on a situation or you feel you’re informed, and your perspective can be beneficiary, say what’s on your mind. I don’t believe in holding your tongue. Especially something that people can directly benefit from, especially young people watching, looking up to you. Who’s to say if you’re a basketball player, you can’t chime in on other subjects, other topics of the day? I will always disagree with that until the day I die.”

Brown came to Los Angeles for NBA All-Star Weekend eager to play basketball obviously, but he also arranged to have some players spend some time around venture capitalists – something he believes can be of benefit to NBA players later in life.

“It’s super-necessary to always have things to not only challenge not only your physical but also your mental as well,” Brown said. “As athletes, we work on our physical part each and every day, but developing the mental side is important as well. So, what I wanted to do for All-Star weekend, was something that was mentally engaging but also help players long term.”

Brown said the gathering this weekend is about “an education before investment,” adding that it’s about, “learning about this field before you go spending money and investing in things that you have no idea what’s going on. It’s better to learn early than late. So, I’m trying to get a lot of these young guys you see here today to come along with me, to put them in a room full of people who are very successful in that field and maybe bridge some of those gaps.”

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