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Volume 25 No. 26
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Sources: NFL Owners Could Change Anthem Policy In '18, Keeping Players In Locker Room

Some NFL owners believe there is a "strong possibility they will enact an offseason change to the league’s national anthem policy if players’ protests during the anthem persist through the end of this season, reverting to a previous approach of keeping players in the locker room while the anthem is played," according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. A source said it was "too early to tell" for certain if the change to the anthem policy will be made by owners and the NFL. The source said that they were "'not sure' if a formal vote of the owners would be required to enact such a change." The source: "Most owners would support it, particularly if players continue to kneel this season." Sources said that they "did not know at this point exactly how many owners would favor such an approach, and they cautioned that there have been no detailed discussions yet about leaving teams and players in the locker room for the anthem because owners did not consider it appropriate to make an in-season change to the policy." Sources added that the matter "could be addressed at the annual league meeting in March." Maske notes the "change to having players and coaches on the sideline for the anthem was made" in '09. Meanwhile, the "pressure from the White House has not relented." After Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch refused to stand for the U.S. anthem before Sunday’s game against the Patriots in Mexico City, President Trump "offered critical comments Monday on Twitter" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/22).

PROTESTS COULD BE DECLINING: In DC, Valerie Richardson writes for the second week in a row, only a "handful NFL players refused to stand for the national anthem, raising the possibility that the political protest may fade on its own without league action." Only five players "sat or took a knee for the national anthem in Week 11, following a week that saw just six players do so." None of the players for the NFL’s two "most activist teams" -- the Seahawks and 49ers -- "refused to stand this week for the national anthem," though the 49ers were on bye. All of the Seahawks "stood for the anthem before the Monday night in a nod to the team’s Salute to Service game honoring veterans." The "real test will come in Week 12," when the Seahawks square off Sunday against the 49ers in S.F. in what "could be described as the Take-a-Knee Bowl" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/22). PFT's Mike Florio said the anthem issue has "kind of died down." The reason the story "continues to be a story is because guys kneel and talk about kneeling and the media talks about kneeling." Florio: "If they're in the locker room, there's nothing to talk about. For one week, it will be, ‘There are no players out here. Back to you, Jim.’ It goes away and dies a natural death” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 11/22).