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NFL, NFLPA remain where they were in 2018: Players have the right to kneel during the anthem

In response to a tweet from Donald Trump, Drew Brees posted his support for anthem protests after learning from his earlier comment on kneeling during the national anthem.

It’s not news. It’s the status quo.

With the anthem controversy revitalized by the apparent softening of the NFL’s stance on kneeling during the anthem and the reiteration of the President’s viewpoint that only standing at attention (or something) is acceptable during the anthem, the league’s official position remains what it was in 2018: Players have the right to kneel.

The announcement came in 2018, after the NFL and NFL Players Association failed to reach an agreement that would revise the current league policy allowing players to kneel or otherwise not stand at attention during the anthem. In May of that year, the league announced via its in-house media arm that a “compromise” had been reached on the anthem issue, but the compromise was reached not between league and players but among owners.

The “compromise” was simple: Players on the sideline would stand for the anthem. Any players who wanted not to stand for the anthem would remain in the locker room.

The NFL apparently realized that it can’t unilaterally implement that change without union consent. In August 2018, the league announced that players would not be disciplined for conduct during the performance of the anthem. To date, the league has not made the kind of concession to secure an agreement by the NFLPA alter the current procedures.

So that’s the official rule. The question is whether teams will unconditionally honor it, or whether they will try, via heavy-handed tactics from owners or coaches, to cajole players into choosing to stand when they have the right to kneel or sit or raise a hand or do anything they choose to do.