Miami Dolphins players could face some sort of penalty from the team this season if they violate the league’s new policy about kneeling during the national anthem.
How severe that punishment will be is still being determined.
The Associated Press released a report Thursday night saying the Dolphins have listed anthem protests as “conduct detrimental to the club.” The NFL collective bargaining agreement states the maximum penalty a player can face for this type of offense is a four-game suspension without pay and a fine equal to one week’s salary.
But the Dolphins don’t have a set-in-stone plan yet for how aggressively they’ll punish players who decide to kneel on the sideline — if they plan to punish them at all.
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“The NFL required each team to submit their rules regarding the anthem before reporting for training camp,” a source close to the Dolphins told the Miami Herald. “Since the rookies reported on Wednesday, [the Dolphins] had to have a policy in place.
“We will address this once the season starts and all options are still on the table.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell mandated a new policy in May requiring players and league personnel on the sidelines to stand during the national anthem. Those who wished to do otherwise would have the option to remain in the locker room. The league left punishment terms up to each team’s discretion.
Last season, three Dolphins did not stand for the anthem for most of the season — receiver Kenny Stills, tight end Julius Thomas and safety Michael Thomas. Of those three, only Stills is still with the team. All said they were protesting social issues, including law enforcement treatment of African Americans.
Several other Dolphins, including left tackle Laremy Tunsil and Jordan Phillips, did not stand for the anthem during the one game immediately after President Donald Trump called protesting players “sons of b------” during a speech.
The NFL Players Association filed a grievance this month challenging the policy, contending it is “inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.”
During organized team activities about a week after the new policy was announced, Stills told reporters he was still considering kneeling during the anthem this season.
“I think I’m gonna continue to do the work that I’ve been doing as far as being in the community and trying to lead and do things the right way and try to make change,” Stills said. “When the time comes where I have to make a decision, I’ll make a decision.”
In March, two months before the new policy was announced, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross released a statement to the Miami Herald and other news outlets saying he would not require his players to stand for the national anthem in response to a New York Daily News article quoting Ross as saying otherwise.
“I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued,” Ross said. “I’ve shared my opinion with all of our players: I’m passionate about the cause of social justice and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists. I know our players care about the military and law enforcement too because I’ve seen the same players who are fighting for social justice engaging positively with law enforcement and the military.
“I care passionately that the message of social justice resonates far and wide and I will continue to support and fund efforts for those who fight for equality for all.”