Miami Dolphins

NFL hits pause on national anthem policy — five hours too late for the Dolphins

In this Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, file photo, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10), free safety Michael Thomas (31) and defensive back Chris Culliver (29) kneel during the National Anthem before the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills.
In this Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, file photo, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10), free safety Michael Thomas (31) and defensive back Chris Culliver (29) kneel during the National Anthem before the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills. AP

The Dolphins on Thursday served as the NFL’s unwitting stress test for the league’s controversial new national anthem policy.

After just five hours, the league acknowledged that test had failed, suspending the rule until the NFL and the players’ union can come to terms on a new one.

Late Thursday, the league and the NFLPA released a joint statement announcing that the two sides have “come to a standstill agreement” on both the NFL’s policy compelling players to stand during the anthem, and the union’s subsequent grievance. Players argue they were not included in the discussions on the policy, which stipulates that teams with players that demonstrate during the anthem will be fined.

Teams were also given the latitude to punish players for protesting, but not compelled to do so. The Associated Press reported Thursday that the Dolphins might fine or even suspend those that do, but the team later clarified that no decision on that matter has been made.

Still, the damage had been done, and the blowback was immediate. Many criticized the team for what they perceived as a heavy-handed policy — even though in truth the Dolphins were only codifying what the league had mandated.

For now, all team and league discipline will be on pause — which is probably wise, seeing as this issue remains unresolved two weeks shy of the start of the preseason.

“No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing,” the statement read.

A day after the news surfaced and less than a week before the Dolphins will have their full team together to start training camp, Dolphins coach Adam Gase appeared on WQAM’s Joe Rose Show but didn’t provide much insight when asked about his thoughts on on the matter and what he plans to tell the team before training camp begins next week.

“Well, our guys aren’t going to be here until next Wednesday,” Gase said Friday morning. “Right now, we’re with the rookies. The quarterbacks will be in today. With the NFL and NFLPA discussing what’s going on and how they’re dealing with everything moving forward, that’s really going to be for those guys right now. Really, we’re going to keep getting ready for training camp.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new policy on the national anthem during a press conference Wednesday. Players are not required to be on the field for the anthem, but will be fined if they are on the field and not standing for the anthem.

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