The NFL is reportedly going to address Anthem protests next week at their annual October owner meetings. There is some expectation the league will attempt to require players stand during the Anthem, and in turn figure out other ways to create a platform for players. An NFL spokesperson denied that there will be a mandate for players to stand during the Anthem.
Whether or not the process plays out that way remains to be seen. San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York might be one owner who speaks out against that. Eric Reid met with the media today and said that he and York have spoken, and York expressed his support.
“I’ve talked to Jed, and he’s expressed very clearly that he wants to support us, that he’s not going to force us to do anything. So speaking for our team, that’s what he’s told me explicitly.”
On the one hand, it’s great to know the 49ers have an owner who supports his players speaking out against issues inequality and injustice. When you’ve got Jerry Jones saying he will bench players who protest, claiming that he knows what’s best for them, it’s easy to get pessimistic about the state of the league and its older ownership set.
However, if the league does decide to implement a league-wide rule about this, it won’t matter what Jed York has to say about it. He can protest at the league meetings, but if he doesn’t have the votes in support of his position, it won’t really make much of a difference unless he’s willing to take a significant, public stand on it.
That being said, the initial part of Reid’s interview might be the most interesting. Reid is the team’s NFLPA player representative, and he raised the question of whether the league could even unilaterally implement a rule requiring players stand.
“As far as I know, that would have to be something that is collectively bargained on. I’m not sure if they can do that, but I guess we’ll find out soon. We’ll see.”
I need to do a little more research into the CBA and the collective bargaining process on this one. The league would likely invoke the personal conduct policy in making any specific rules. The policy has come under scrutiny as it relates to the league’s domestic violence policy and criminal matters, but it offers this general catch-all:
“Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in’ the NFL.”
Jed York might mean well in his support of Eric Reid, but consider me skeptical that he would have the power within the owner hierarchy to prevent this kind of rule from being implemented. Roger Goodell has said their will be a meeting of players with owners to discuss this further next week. We’ll see what actually comes out of it next week.