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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 22 September 2020

NFL teams are discussing a 15-yard penalty for kneeling during the anthem

Under the proposal, the home team would decide if the teams take to the field for the playing of the anthem.

New England Patriots players take a knee before playing the Houston Texans last season.
New England Patriots players take a knee before playing the Houston Texans last season.
Image: UPI/PA Images

THE NFL HAS been struggling to deal with the issue of kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem since Colin Kaepernick first decided to adopt the peaceful protest in response to the extra-judicial killing of black Americans in 2016.

Many have weighed in on the issue since, including US President Donald Trump who claimed that anyone kneeling during the anthem should be fired.

The response to Trump’s comments was a league-wide show of unity the following weekend, with more players kneeling than ever before.

The issue is still far from resolved with both Kaepernick and former team-mate Eric Reid — who was among to first to join the quarterback in protesting — filing collusion grievances against the league in which they claim they remain unemployed solely because of their kneeling.

It emerged last night that NFL owners are mulling over a new strategy for dealing with players who kneel, including handing 15-yard penalties to any player for protesting.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer:

“An idea being floated in the room goes like this: It would be up to the home team on whether both teams come out of the locker room for the anthem, and, should teams come out, 15-yard penalties could be assessed for kneeling.”

This is the third time the NFL owners have met to address issues around the anthem and in October agreed to a seven-year, $89 million, social-justice partnership with the NFL Players’ Coalition.

However, while their latest idea is designed to avoid controversy around the anthem this season, penalising players for protesting social causes may invite even more controversy.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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