NFL players have a reprieve from being punished for protesting the national anthem. The league and its players’ association reached an agreement to stop enforcing the controversial anthem policy as the two sides continue talks to resolve issues regarding the rule.
In May, league officials adopted a policy that allowed teams to punish players who kneel in protest of police brutality and injustice. The decision was met with heavy opposition from critics who saw it as harsh censorship. Talk of boycotts and more protests began circulating on social media, with the NFL being forced to reconsider the rule. A victory finally came when the NFL pulled back on the policy Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue,” a joint statement between the NFL and players’ league read. “In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”
The move came after Miami Dolphins considered one-to-four-game suspensions for protesting players earlier this week. Several Dolphins players had previously staged their own protests: receiver Kenny Stills took a knee with a hand on his heart during the anthem last season; defensive tackle Jordan Phillips put his arm around Stills before one game; safety Michael Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas left the team after their kneeling protests.
It’s clear that players will not be shut down in raising their fists or taking a knee, despite Trump’s nonstop whining about it. Though no teams had publicly revealed their punishments for protesting players, athletes still spoke out about the policy. Perhaps the NFL can now see how much the protests mean to athletes during the policy enforcement moratorium; the league can also see how former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s brave move to kneel in 2016 has inspired so many.