Artie Burns Claims Anthem Policy is 'Bullying' by NFL

Steelers Corner Says Rule May Be Divisive

Josh Rowntree
May 24, 2018 - 1:20 pm
Steelers CB Artie Burns stretches during the team's OTA

Josh Rowntree

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The day after the NFL owners approved a policy that prohibits players from kneeling or showing any form of protest during the national anthem, Steelers third-year cornerback Artie Burns slammed the new rule.

Following Thursday's OTA, Burns sounded off on the policy that does allow players the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem. If a player protests on the field during the anthem, the team will be subject to a fine. 

"It makes you look bad," Burns said of staying in the locker room. "Your whole team's out there and you come jogging out like 'oh, he's the guy that's (protesting)'. Who wants to go through that, man? That's humiliating."

In Burns' eyes, a player running out on the field after the anthem could be an issue.

"That's humiliating us as a person," Burns added. "We're trying to stand for something, but you single us out in front of everybody. You talk about bullying, man, that's bullying, in my opinion."

Last season, in Chicago, the Steelers stayed in the tunnel before the national anthem. Left tackle and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, however, stood in front of his teammates. The photo of Villanueva went viral, causing a backlash against the team and League. 

"I feel like that's just another topic to get anybody against each other," Burns said. "I hate that we have to go down this route, but it is what it is."

Burns did say that he will be on the field and will stand for the anthem and wasn't sure where the trust level sits between players and management. 

"I don't think it's going to be an issue," he said. "We're a world championship team. We go out there to win games."

There are two sides to the owners agreeing to pay the fine for the players. Some think it is a proactive move by ownership to find middle ground with the players. Others have suggested that an owner having to pay a fine for a player breaking rules made by the owner could by divisive. 

"That's still singling people out," Burns added. "You're singling out your owner, you're singling out the people that are in the building. They're still putting one person against another person. We're all in this (expletive) together."