The NFL and its union, the NFL Players’ Association, announced Thursday that the league would freeze recently established rules on national anthem protests “for the next several weeks” as talks about how to address this controversial issue.

NFL & NFLPA Announce Standstill On Anthem Protests

“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue,” the two organizations said in a joint statement. “In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy.”

The statement continued: “The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice. Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.”

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This development comes after reports surfaced Thursday that the Miami Dolphins could potentially reprimand players who kneel for the national anthem by suspending or fining them. Team executives had reportedly gone as far as to submit paperwork to the league that would allow them to punish their players.

In late May, the NFL announced that players would be fined for kneeling for the anthem on the field or even on the sidelines beginning next season, although football stars could choose to stay in the locker rooms before games. Several team owners admitted in the days that followed that President Donald Trump played a major role in the league’s decision. Trump has repeatedly slammed players like free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernickwho first started the protest in August 2016 to make a statement about racial inequality and police brutality in the United States. Trump and many other prominent conservatives have called players who kneel for the anthem “unpatriotic” and said these protests are disrespectful to the flag and to military veterans.

Afte reports about the Dolphins’ planned disciplinary actions against players who protested, some journalists and fans noted how outrageous it was that any NFL team could consider dealing a harsher punishment (four-game suspensions) to athletes who peacefully kneel than to those who have committed more egregious offenses like assault. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winstonfor example, was recently suspended three games for the 2018 season for sexually assaulting a female Uber driver in 2016.

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The NFL Players Association had filed a grievance against the league shortly after its initial announcement on the anthem protests policy. The NFL has now left it up to teams to decide how to reprimand players for kneeling for The Star-Spangled Banner. 


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