Miami Dolphins players who do not stand on the field during the national anthem could face up to a four-game suspension under a new team policy.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that a nine-page discipline document classifies anthem protests as “conduct detrimental to the club.” Under the National Football League’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union, teams can fine players a maximum of one week’s salary and/or suspend them for up to four games for this type of violation.
A team source confirmed the report to BuzzFeed News, but cautioned that the club has not yet decided whether and how to punish players for protesting the anthem on the field.
“The NFL required each team to submit their rules regarding the anthem before their players reported to training camp,” the source said, adding that because the Dolphins rookies reported to camp on Wednesday they needed to have the policy in place.
“We will address this issue once the season starts,” the source continued. “All options are still open.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement Friday that the new policy was “a placeholder as we haven’t made a decision on what we would do, if anything, at that point.”
In May, the NFL announced that starting this season all players on the field must stand for the anthem or their team will face fines. Players who want to kneel or don’t want to stand for the ceremony must remain in the locker room, the league said.
But late Thursday, following reports about the Dolphins policy, the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced in a joint statement that the league’s policy on anthem protests and any other anthem-related rules adopted by teams are being put on hold.
“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy,” the statement said. “No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”
A spokesperson for the association, which filed a grievance against the league earlier this month, told BuzzFeed News that the agreement to not enforce the anthem policy was reached Thursday afternoon, but the decision had nothing to do with the report about the Dolphins.
The controversy began in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the anthem in what he described as an act of protest against police brutality in the United States.
In later protests, Kaepernick instead kneeled during the anthem and a handful of players joined him.
The issue was reignited last year when President Donald Trump began to tweet and make public statements about players kneeling during the national anthem.
After Trump said during a speech in Alabama on Sept. 22, 2017, that NFL owners should fire any “son of a bitch” who refused to stand during the anthem, many more players started to take a knee.
The NFL’s decision to fine teams for anthem protests drew swift backlash from players and the NFLPA, which said it was not consulted in the creation of the policy.
In a statement regarding the grievance it filed, the association said the anthem policy was “inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.”