NFLPA Files Grievance Challenging Anthem Policy

The players associations argues this "infringes on player rights."

Chris Emma
July 10, 2018 - 11:00 am
The New England Patriots at Super Bowl LII.

Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports


(670 The Score) The NFL Players Association is filing a grievance against the NFL, challenging that the league's new national anthem policy "infringes on player rights."

The NFLPA announced this Tuesday morning, about six weeks after league owners informally voted to pass a policy that threatens fines for acts of protest on the sideline during the national anthem. Players have been invited to remain behind in the locker room as an alternative to taking action on the sideline.

"Our union filed its non-injury grievance today on behalf of all players challenging the NFL’s recently imposed anthem policy," the NFLPA wrote in its statement. "The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.

"In advance of our filing today, we proposed to the NFL to begin confidential discussions with the NFLPA Executive Committee to find a solution to this issue instead of immediately proceeding with litigation. The NFL has agreed to proceed with those discussions and we look forward to starting them soon."

League owners first discussed the policy during their meetings in March and passed it without a formal vote during May meetings. Players and their union didn't have a part of creating this policy.

"There is no easy answer to the anthem issue," Bears chairman George McCaskey said last month. "No one is entirely right, nor entirely wrong. The policy change enacted a couple of weeks ago by NFL teams, including the Bears, isn’t perfect. But we think it will return the anthem to what it should be — a unifying force — while providing an option to those players and other team personnel who choose not to stand."

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem during a 2016 preseason game in an effort to raise awareness of police brutality and systematic oppression. Many players followed suit in support of Kaepernick and his cause. Kaepernick didn't play in the NFL last season.

Action during the national anthem took on new form last September after President Donald Trump called upon the league to force its players to stand during the anthem, using the phrase "Get that son of a b---- off the field" during a rally in Alabama. While many chose to protest Trump the following Sunday, teams like the Bears chose instead to lock arms in a show of solidarity.

Bears linebacker Sam Acho, the team's union representative, called for more open-mindedness and fewer half-truths in a national anthem narrative that has gone far beyond the intended purpose.

"It's up to people to use common sense and use your intelligence, use your brain and think about what the players are actually standing for or kneeling for or putting a fist up in the air for," Acho said last month. "If you just actually stop and sit and think, you realize these players are taking a knee or putting up a fist and if you stop, think and listen, you hear it's to fight against injustice. You listen and you hear.

"People need to stop, they need to think and they need to listen and not be so eager to say, 'Well, because you took a knee, you hate the military.' I think that's a sophomoric in your thinking. It's too simple."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.