As President Donald Trump continues to criticize NFL players who protest the national anthem, the New York Jets (including quarterback Sam Darnold) and Atlanta Falcons squared off in NFL Week 1 preseason action Friday at MetLife Stadium.
To no surprise, no Jets player protested during the national anthem before Friday night's preseason opener against the Falcons. All Jets players stood on the sideline with their arms locked (or hands over hearts), which is what the Jets have been doing since last season.
The organization considers it a show of unity during the anthem. Since 2016 -- when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting by not standing during the anthem (in order to bring attention to social and racial justice issues) -- no Jets player has sat or kneeled during the anthem.
They have all stood for every pregame anthem. So the Jets did nothing different Friday, as the NFL prepares to enter the 2018 season with a new national anthem policy. Players no longer have to be on the field for the anthem.
They can remain in the locker room if they so desire.
But if they are on the field, they have to stand for the anthem (which is new). And if they don't stand for the anthem, the team -- not the player(s) -- will be fined (which is also new).
But each team can map out its own policy for potentially disciplining or fining players who are on the field and not standing during the anthem. Jets acting owner Christopher Johnson has said he will not pass along fines to players who want to remain on the field during the anthem, but not stand, as a form of peaceful protest. Johnson is the Jets' acting owner because his older brother, Woody, is currently serving as President Donald Trump's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Latest Jets roster projection Trump has said NFL players should be required to stand for the anthem.
Woody Johnson got his ambassador position after supporting the election of Trump, who has vulgarly criticized NFL players who choose to kneel during the anthem.
Since last year, after taking over for Woody, Christopher Johnson has worked with Jets players on advancing social and racial justice issues. Darryl Slater may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter @DarrylSlater.
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