NFL owners approve penalty for players kneeling during national anthem

Baltimore Ravens kneeling before a game (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Team owners voted to approve a proposal on Wednesday requiring players to stand during the playing of the national anthem — but only if they are on the field.

According to the policy statement, owners strongly believe all team and league personnel on the field “shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”

There is also an option for players to remain in the locker room while the anthem is played. Instead of a league-wide rule, it will be up to each team to decide whether there would be discipline for a player protesting during the National Anthem.

Should a player protest on the sideline, the NFL can fine a team, but not the player. Previously, there had been no rule that prevented players from protesting.

Players have refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial inequality. The protests started after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling to protest police mistreatment of African Americans.