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Volume 25 No. 47
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NFLPA Files Grievance With League Over New Anthem Policy

NFL's new anthem policy has set the stage for another potential legal battle between the players and league
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The NFLPA has "filed a grievance" with the NFL "challenging the league’s national anthem policy," according to Kevin Duffy of the BOSTON HERALD. The NFLPA in a statement called the policy "inconsistent" with the CBA, "noting that it 'infringes on player rights.'" Both sides have "agreed to engage in discussions." The new rule has been "widely criticized by players" after the anthem "became a hot-button issue last September when President Trump blasted players who chose to kneel as a way to protest racial and social injustices" (BOSTONHERALD.com, 7/11). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton writes the new anthem policy has "inflamed tensions with training camps rapidly approaching, while setting the stage for another potential legal battle between the players and the league." From the outset, the NFLPA was "unhappy with the new anthem rule, saying it planned to challenge anything that went against" the CBA (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/11). Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush tweeted, "The league hailed the policy as a compromise, but players clearly didn't feel that was the case" (TWITTER.com, 7/10).

NEXT STEPS: ESPN.com's Dominique Foxworth noted the NFLPA "argues in its grievance that peaceful demonstration during the anthem does not qualify as 'conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence'" in the NFL. The league will "need to rely on the broad powers afforded the commissioner through the personal conduct policy, including applying the phrase 'conduct detrimental,' to decide whether to fine teams whose players demonstrate on-field during the anthem." The NFL will "have 10 days to respond in writing to the accusations set forth in the grievance." If the issue is "not resolved at that point, the NFLPA can appeal to the notice arbitrator." The grievance will be "heard by one of four mutually accepted arbitrators." The hearing "likely will take place within 30 days, but grievances of this nature can take months to resolve" (ESPN.com, 7/10). NBC Sports Bay Area’s Ray Ratto said owners are "sort of between a rock and a hard place here, because if they give in on this, then they get to hear about it" from Trump. Ratto: "The NFL is really good at one thing and one thing only -- hoping problems go away. ... Now they're paying for it” (“The Happy Hour,” NBC Sports Bay Area, 7/10).

BIGGER FISH TO FRY? FS1’s Jason Whitlock said of the NFLPA filing a grievance, “It speaks to the weakness of the union. ... Let's argue about the national anthem, continue to dirty up the brand of NFL players, and irritate the customer base.” Whitlock added, “Argue about how many black coaches there are. Do that. But instead, we’re arguing about whether we can make a scene in our national anthem so that our Twitter feeds can rise and we can tell everybody that we care about police brutality. It's a joke.” FS1’s Colin Cowherd said of the union, “Why are you revisiting your biggest headache last year, your biggest pain in the butt last year? ... I don't understand it” (“Speak for Yourself,” FS1, 7/10).