What to Know
- The NFL passed a new policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem or stay in the locker room
- Under the new policy, the NFL will fine teams whose players do not stand and show respect for the anthem and flag while on the field
- New York Jets owner Christopher Johnson said his team will pay any fines doled out by the league, without passing on punishment to players
New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said his players can take a knee during the national anthem if they choose without punishment from the team.
The league on Wednesday adopted a new policy requiring players and league personnel to "stand and show respect for the flag" and the national anthem if they are on the field. But under the new policy, players who do not wish to stand may stay off the field, giving people a way to demonstrate without the public spectacle that became a heated topic of national conversation last season.
However, the Jets verified Twitter account tweeted a statement following the news of the new policy stating Johnson “will support our players wherever we land as a team.”
"I plan to sit in the very near term with Coach Bowles and our players to discuss today's decision regarding the National Anthem,” Johnson said in the statement. “As I have in the past, I will support our players wherever we land as a team. Our focus is not on imposing any Club rules, fines, or restrictions. Instead we will continue to work closely with our players to constructively advance social justice issues that are important to us. I remain extremely proud of how we demonstrated unity last season as well as our players' commitment to strengthening our communities."
The NFL will fine teams whose players do not stand and show respect for the anthem and flag while on the field. Anyone who does not stand will be subject to "appropriate discipline" from the commissioner, according to the new policy.
Johnson, however, said his team will pay any fines doled out by the league, without passing on punishment to the players. He told Newsday he "struggled" with the new policy.
“You know my position on the anthem, and you have to understand that the plan we ended up with, due to some serious work in the [meeting] room, was vastly less onerous than the one that was presented to me late last week. In the end, I felt I had to support it from a membership standpoint,” Johnson told the newspaper.
Last season, dozens of players decided to kneel or otherwise demonstrate during the anthem to draw attention to police violence against minoritized groups and the treatment of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was one of the first to protest in such a way.
Nobody on the Jets kneeled last season and instead the team stood in unity.
The protests became the subject of a fierce national firestorm after President Donald Trump said in a rally players who don't stand for the anthem should be fired.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'get that son of a b**** off the field right now, he's fired,'" Trump said in September.
Trump had no immediate comment on the new policy, but Vice President Mike Pence called it "a win for the fans, a win for (the president), and a win for America."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.