Patriots players kneel with arms linked before a Sept. 24, 2017 game at Gillette. (Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
ATLANTA (24/7 NewsSource) -- NFL owners approved a new policy on Wednesday that requires players and league personnel on the sideline to stand for the national anthem but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they desire.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said the six changes under the policy were unanimously approved by team owners at the league meetings in Atlanta.
"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," Goodell 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."
"It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic," he continued. "This is not and was never the case."
Below are the six changes cited by Goodell in his statement:
"1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem."
"2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem."
"3. 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."
"4. 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."
"5. 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."
"6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem."
The NFL Players Association was quick to issue a statement on the heels of the new policy.
The anthem issue has been a divisive one, with some feeling players not standing for the song is disrespectful to, among others, the U.S. military.
Others feel it is the players' right to protest perceived social injustice peacefully.
The change in policy comes after some players elected against standing for the national anthem.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement in 2016 to kneel during the national anthem as a protest to denounce police brutality against African-Americans, social injustice and racial inequality.
The topic became a central issue for the NFL after President Trump criticized the movement during a speech last September, stating players should be fired for not standing.
"We're proud of our country. We respect our flag," Trump said to loud applause at the campaign event in Alabama. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'"
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