The New York Post: NFL players speak up as owners take steps to keep anthem kneelers off field

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NFL owners reached a deal Wednesday that will keep those who want to protest during “The Star-Spangled Banner” off the field and out of the spotlight.

At the owners’ meetings in Atlanta, the group determined a new policy that states that if players are on the field during the anthem, they must stand. Players who wish to join Colin Kaepernick’s movement, primarily protesting police brutality in numbers that skew toward minorities, can stay in the locker room. That’s a change from the mandate that players be on the field for the anthem.

Read: Colin Kaepernick was named GQ’s ‘Citizen of the Year’

“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

Previously, NFL regulations said players “should” stand for the anthem, an allowance that raged out of control as players protested police brutality and racism in the United States. President Trump launched attacks at the league and its players, and the NFL has scrambled for a solution that takes its protesters off the field ever since.

Related: NFL owners reportedly angered by Trump’s vilification of kneeling players

If a player does go on the field and protests during the anthem, the team would be fined by the league. The new policy also enables each club to have its own rules for discipline if a player is on the field and does “not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

The unilaterally implemented rule was not welcomed by the Players’ Association, which said it was not consulted.

“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,” NFLPA said in a statement.

“Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the new collective bargaining agreement.”

Veteran player Chris Long expressed his views in a tweet.

As did Torrey Smith:

A version of this report appears on NYPost.com.