During their meeting in Atlanta this week, NFL owners had a lot to discuss. The main topics being the legality of new sports gambling, new ownership, and rules, as well as one old problem: kneeling during the National Anthem.
Although the topic of player protest is not officially part of the meeting’s agenda, it is certain this popular topic of discussion among the general population will be hard to avoid during the NFL meeting.
The controversial question likely to be part of the conversation is whether or not players can kneel in protest during the national anthem. The controversy stayed firmly in place for most of the year. Owners took a lot of heat from angry fans a well as sponsors and advertisers nervous about possible future impacts. Even with fewer players kneeling toward the end, many who supported the teams worried.
A Compromise on Kneeling During the National Anthem is Hard in Coming for NFL
Even with team owners needing a resolution before the season begins this year, there seems to be little consensus. Some owners such as those of the Dallas Cowboys, are working to make sure their players stand during the anthem. Others, on the other hand, want to support the player’s right to protest. And still in the middle are those who don’t want to order the players either way.
Some believe the league hesitates to make a rule due to the controversy now being quiet compared to last season.
One possible compromise is to leave it to each team. While it’s not a long-term answer, it gives each team time to make their own response to this controversy.
The most essential on-field changes to be discussed during the meeting is that owners are expected to approve kickoff changes. They will also allow replay use for any ejection such as those that happen due to the new rule that prohibits players on the field from lowering their head to make contact with their helmets. Changes to the kickoff include ending the running start for the kicking team and nixing any wedges. The rules will also state that at least eight players from the return team should be in a set-up zone of 15 yards before the kickoff. Hopefully, in keeping players near the kick, the speed and space on the play will be reduced.