The Miami Dolphins may suspend players who protest on the field during the national anthem, The Associated Press reported Thursday, and reaction was swift and varied.
Players could be suspended up to four games under the Dolphins’ “Proper Anthem Conduct” policy, which is part of a nine-page document on team discipline, the AP said. The document, which is not public, was provided to the AP by someone who insisted on anonymity.
It was unclear late Thursday night how soon the Dolphins might implement the policy after the National Football League and the union that represents the players, the NFLPA, issued a joint statement saying they have been working on a resolution to the issue. “No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing,” the statement says.
In May, NFL team owners unanimously approved a policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field. But players have the option of staying in the locker room during the anthem.
On July 10, the players union filed a grievance, saying that imposing the new policy was “inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.”
Reaction to the Dolphins’ reported policy ran from full support to complete opposition.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of an online civil rights organization called Color of Change, said the Dolphins’ policy put protesting during the national anthem on the same level as testing positive for drugs or being charged with domestic violence.
“What the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross are doing is making a real claim that the injustices that people are speaking out against don’t matter,” Robinson said, according to the AP.
Others took to Twitter to express dismay.
The Miami Dolphins haven’t been to a Super Bowl in 34 yrs, now they’re going to suspend players who protest during the national anthem, perhaps their focus is in the wrong place.
— Jay Thomas (@JayTThomas17) July 20, 2018
Won’t be watching Football this season! RT @renato_mariotti: Jameis Winston was suspended for only three games for sexually assaulting a woman. Now the Miami Dolphins will suspend any player who kneels during the anthem for up to *four* games. Disgraceful. https://t.co/zVLHxHnUMP
— Lori Capron #PERSIST (@lcapron) July 20, 2018
Miami Dolphins’ anthem discipline a policy only dictator would love…
— GOOD TO SEO (@GOOD_TO_SEO) July 20, 2018
But others supported the team and its policy.
I’m so proud of the Miami Dolphins
Suspending players who don’t stand for the National Anthem
— My Info (@glendasusan2014) July 20, 2018
Thanks to the Miami Dolphins for showing that grown ups are back in charge. Work is work and personal time is personal time. Protesters are not part of the football game and the National Anthem is the beginning of the game for America! https://t.co/vD4Vl3yXjC
— Bret Weingart (@kbweingart) July 20, 2018
If I see or even hear of any NFL player on the Miami Dolphins kneel during the anthem or pledge, I will not watch any football this year! Do you hate America that much? Then leave America!
— Charles Duncan (@ChuckyD2) July 20, 2018