NFL.com: “I do think our players show respect for the flag. I do think our players shoe respect for our country. We need to get towards progress, and I think that’s what we’re focused on — is trying to get our guys to focus on the work that we’re doing in the community, the money that we’ve donated to charity, and trying to get our guys focused there. And I’m much more of a carrot person than I am a stick person, and I wanna make sure that we’re working consciously to get to that place.”
ESPN: “I think for us, I wanted to make sure we focused on the progress aspect of this. Not focus on the protests. I believe that our players have done a great job of trying to bring light to social justice issues. We’re focused on the reform aspect of it. And I think there’s so much more to it than a player standing, or a team employee standing. We want to take a broader approach of, for us personally, we’re gonna close concession sales during the National Anthem. I don’t think that we should profit if we’re going to ask people to be respectful. I think that’s something we should do to be respectful. But again, that’s the tip of the iceberg. We want to make sure we have an all-encompassing sort of solution to how we look at this, and not point the finger at one group or another. And really come together and have a great conversation with our players, and figure out how do we do the right things for social justice reform, and do it in a way that we want to still bring attention to it, but do it in a way that can be as sort of dignified in our entire encompassing approach.”
NFL owners announced a new Anthem policy on Wednesday, declaring it was unanimously passed. While technically all votes on the matter were in favor, at least one team chose to abstain. San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York said he chose to abstain from the vote, saying he did that in part because he wanted to hear more from players. The NFL has spoken to players over the past year, but none were present for the formulation of this policy over the past two days.
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
York also offered this:
“I think there are a lot of reasons, and I’m not going to get into all of those reasons. But I think the gist of it is really that we want to make sure that everything that we’re doing is to promote progress. And I think we’ve done a good piece of that so far.”
While there has been plenty to complain about the on-field product, York has been ahead of the curve on social issues for some time now. Following Colin Kaepernick’s decision nearly two years ago to take a knee during the National Anthem, York and the 49ers organization announced plans to match Colin Kaepernick’s $1 million donation to organizations fighting inequality. The 49ers donated a combined $1 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation. Additionally, the 49ers donated $75,000 to a North Carolina-based LGBTQ organization when the owners held a meeting in Charlotte.
The coming season will be an interesting one in light of the new policy. The league can fine teams if players “show disrespect” to the flag and/or Anthem. Teams can in turn discipline players under the conduct detrimental clause. If 49ers players want to take a knee rather than stay in the locker room, will the 49ers pay the fine and be done with it?