ATLANTA - The NFL on Wednesday afternoon announced a new National Anthem policy for all league personnel.
The new league-wide policy states: “All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
Under the new policy, players will have the option to stay in the locker room for "The Star-Spangled Banner."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners made the announcement at a news conference in Atlanta.
"This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed," Goodell said.
The new rule allows individuals to set their own policies to ensure the Anthem is being respected. If a player chooses to protest on the sideline, the NFL will fine the team and the team can fine the player.
Watch the news conference below:
Channel 2 sports director Zach Klein obtained the entire rule.
The full leaguewide policy says:
“All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.
Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.
A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
However, some say the NFL has lost sight of what the protest was really about.
Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, disagreed with the NFL owners' new policy.
"It's not about the flag. It's about the continued brutality, the continued oppression of people of color in America, and they have a right to protest that," Rose said.
The NFLPA issued the following statement about the policy:
“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.
The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.
Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue -- which has reached all the way to the White House.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.
Other players took up the cause.
The annual NFL spring meetings are taking place at The Whitley in Buckhead.
They also talked about upcoming Super Bowls and NFL drafts at the meetings.
The 2019 NFL draft will be held in Nashville, Tennessee. The home of the Tennessee Titans was selected Wednesday during the league's spring meetings.
Nashville will be hosting the draft for the first time.
The draft was held in New York City from 1965-2014, but the league has been moving it to different cities in recent years.
Chicago was the site in 2015-16, Philadelphia hosted in 2017 and this year's draft was held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The NFL has awarded future Super Bowls to Arizona and New Orleans.
The 2023 title game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, while the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will be host in 2024.
This will be eighth time the game is held at the 43-year-old Superdome, more than any other stadium. Its most recent Super Bowl was in 2013, which is remembered for the power going out during the second half, resulting in a 34-minute delay.
The retractable roof stadium in suburban Phoenix previously held the Super Bowl in 2008 and 2015.
After this season's game in Atlanta, the next three Super Bowls will be held at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium (2020), Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (2021) and the new Hollywood Park stadium in Los Angeles (2022).
© 2019 Cox Media Group.