The NFL says that players have to stand for the national anthem when on the field, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Wednesday.
The news comes after team owners met on Tuesday on whether players should be punished for kneeling during the anthem.
Players have been sitting or kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. If they do so, teams can be fined by the League.
“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players,” he said in a statement. “We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.
The new policy dictates that all players do not have to be on the field at the time of the Anthem and can remain in the locker room or somewhere off the field as it’s being played.
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic, the NFL commissioner said. “This is not and was never the case.”
Protests made national attention when former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the “Star-Spangled Banner” during a 2016 game. He is suing the League saying that team owners banded together to keep him unemployed.
Protests continued during the 2017 NFL season and drew ire from President Donald Trump who called for team owners to fire players who kneeled.
“Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said in September during a rally in Alabama.
Following the announcement, the NFL’s Player Union said that the League did not “consult” them about the policy changes and will review and “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 23, 2018