It’s been just 24 hours since the NFL unveiled its new policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem and sources say players are already discussing new ways to carry out their protests.
“I talked to a former NFL player yesterday who has said that players are already talking about other ways in which they can protest,” NBC’s Craig Melvin said Thursday morning during the “Today” show.
The NBC anchor stopped short of naming which players he spoke to or what alternative forms of protest they could be considering, however.
Other journalists, including NFL Media reporter Jim Trotter and Sports Illustrated writer Robert Klemko, said they’ve also heard rumblings about players mulling other forms of protest, such as staying in the locker room, according to The Hill.
While admittedly a small sample size, some players are telling me they’re *considering* staying in locker room or making a different on-field gesture simply b/c they feel this new policy is a direct challenge to them. Before today, they hadn’t thought about demonstrating in ‘18.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) May 23, 2018
What I'm hearing from players: Those who weren't planning demonstrations for next season are now back in the conversation, discussing ways to skirt to new rules "just to spite the NFL."
— robertklemko (@RobertKlemko) May 23, 2018
NFL owners on Wednesday approved a policy outlawing on-field protests during the anthem at games, threatening to fine teams whose players take a knee. The protests first began in 2016 when former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick began kneeling as a form of protest against racial inequality and police brutality in America. His demonstrations drew the ire of fans who considered it blatantly disrespectful to the country and the flag.
The protests intensified only last year after President Donald Trump, an outspoken critic of the demonstrations, blasted NFL players who kneeled as “sons of b*tches” who deserved to be booted from the league.
The NFL’s new rule comes after months of intense deliberations between team owners and their players, many of whom have supported the protests. Forcing players to stand has seemed to only exacerbate the controversy rather than quell it, however.
“All 32 clubs want to make sure that during the moment of the anthem and the flag that that is a very important moment to all of us as a league and as clubs, “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a press conference announcing the new rule. “That is a moment we want to make sure is done in a very respectful fashion.”
“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it,” Goodell said in a separate statement.
The controversial rule has sparked outrage among players and fans alike. Since then, some NFL owners, like New York Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, have offered to pay the fines for players who violate the new rule.
How players plan to protest moving forward remains a mystery, but supportive fans took to Twitter to offer a few alternatives of their own.
@mosesbread72 hey, saw the players were looking for an alternative protest, since you’re now forced to ‘act patriotic’ and just wanted to offer an alternative…. pic.twitter.com/uQUp4vtSum
— Black Michael Cera (@TheWillieCoxJr) May 24, 2018
I would also like to suggest an alternative protest now. I would suggest that all players now during the anthem cover their mouth instead of their hearts as the @NFL is trying to silence their players.
— Todd Pemble (@the_toddd) May 23, 2018
#NFL should not be stifling free speech with their fines. They should just offer a free speech alternative. I suggest complaining whites who are upset about social justice just levitate during the anthem in protest of their favorite “reverse racism.” #BoycottTheNFL pic.twitter.com/dnL4yWmCoy
— Bill Beck (@Writer614) May 23, 2018
An alternative to kneeling. #Anthem #NFL #protest pic.twitter.com/CwxBlvH324
— George Cunningham (@sportdiversity) May 24, 2018