The owners of the Jets, Raiders, and 49ers disagreed with the ban.
On May 23, the NFL took a hard stance on a big issue fueling America’s culture wars: The league ruled its players must either stand during the national anthem or stay in the locker room until the song’s conclusion.
Players who do not “show respect for the flag” will be fined for their actions.
According to media reports, all team owners who voted supported the new policy, but at least two abstained: Mark Davis of the Oakland Raiders and Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Raiders Organization has a long history of fighting for equality. They’re the first NFL team to hire black and Latinx head coaches and a woman CEO. And Davis made an eloquent speech about social justice to fellow team owners.
As I just said on @OTLonESPN sources in the room told me there was no official vote for the anthem resolution. League execs polled owners and knew how they’d vote but didn’t hold an official vote, atypical for such a major resolution.— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) May 24, 2018\n
Also told that Mark Davis was one of the most eloquent speakers on the social justice issues—and that he abstained from the vote as well.— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) May 24, 2018\n
York abstained from voting altogether, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wants to have a “deeper conversation with our players” about the issue. He’s also planning to suspend concession sales during the anthem to hit the league in the pocketbook.
49ers owner Jed York said that he abstained from the NFL owners vote on the new anthem policy, in part, because he wanted to hear more from players. He added that he may halt concession sales at Levi’s Stadium during the playing of the anthem.— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) May 23, 2018\n
Of all 32 owners, New York Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson have taken the firmest stance against the ban, saying he’ll pay any fines incurred by his players.
“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson told Newsday. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest.”
Statement from Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson pic.twitter.com/4JObk43oDT— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 23, 2018\n
A few big-name NFL players who were vocal supporters of the on-field protests also spoke out against the NFL’s new ruling.
Malcolm Jenkins. Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins released an impassioned statement clarifying the goals of the protestors:
“What NFL owners did today was thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country. Everyone loses when voices get stifled.
While I disagree with this decision, I will not let it silence me or stop me from fighting. The national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the past two years will persist as we continue to use our voices, our time and our money to create a more fair and just criminal justice system, end police brutality and foster better educational opportunities for communities of color and those struggling in this country.
For me, this has never been about taking a knee, raising a fist or anyone's patriotism but doing what we can to affect real change for real people.”
Jenkins’ teammate Chris Long also spoke out, accusing the NFL of cowering before Donald Trump:
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin believes the whole thing comes down to dollars and cents:
Doug Baldwin on @710ESPNSeattle on the NFL Anthem rules today:— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynMcIntyr) May 23, 2018\n
"I'm not surprised - the NFL cares about one thing and that's the NFL - that's the bottom line...I'm not surprised, I'm disappointed."
Says he's been in contact with Roger Goodell, calls the rule tone deaf.