League did not let NFL owners officially vote on new anthem policy before release


In announcing the league’s new national anthem policy on Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell claimed that the decision to adopt the new policy was the result of a “unanimous” vote among owners.

Goodell’s statement, however, seems a bit misleading when considering the fact that not only did at least two owners abstain, but a formal vote was never actually taken, per ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed Thursday that there was no official vote, though he told ESPN the league ascertained support for the new policy by asking for a show of hands from owners. Apparently, “there were zero nays,” ESPN reported.

“That was considered a vote,” McCarthy said.

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According to Wickersham, the NFL wanted to be sure the motion would pass, which might explain why no formal vote was taken.

At least prior to the owners’ meeting, not everyone was on board with changing the old national anthem policy, which did not penalize players who protested racial injustice by kneeling during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The new policy mandates that players who are on the sidelines for the anthem must stand, though they can choose to stay in the locker room and not participate. Teams will be fined if any of their players or personnel do not stand for the national anthem while on the field.

According to’s Jim Trotter, there were between eight and 10 owners who wanted to keep the policy the way it was.

That sentiment seemed to carry over into the meeting itself, as both Raiders owner Marc Davis and 49ers owner Jed York said they abstained from the vote.

Will the NFL's new national anthem policy stop players from protesting during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner?"

Of course, some owners and league executives support the new policy, arguing that fans want players to respect the national anthem and what it stands for.

“We heard from a lot of fans over the last six months,” Steelers Art Rooney told Sports Illustrated. “No question that was part of the decision-making. (Those) people expect the players to be respectful during the anthem. Pretty simple.”

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Cowboys COO Stephen Jones, meanwhile, said fans don’t want to have to think about politics when they’re watching football games.

“People come to our games to get away from everything,” Jones said. “They don’t want to worry about their finances, they don’t want to worry about their job, they don’t want to worry about what’s in the news. They want to get away and relax for three or four hours.”

One thing is for sure: No matter what the NFL did to address the national anthem protests, a lot of people were going to be unhappy.

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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