Steelers Owner, Union Rep React to NFL Anthem Policy

Ruling Allows Players to Remain in Locker Room

Josh Rowntree
May 23, 2018 - 1:17 pm
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger stands during the National Anthem during a game in 2017

USA Today

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - By unanimous approval, NFL owners have passed a policy that will require all players and team personnel to stand during the national anthem. 

All 32 owners approved the new rule, which will give players the right to stay in the locker room during the anthem. If a player does take the field and does not stand, however, the team will be subject to a fine. 

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, adding that team personnel may remain in the locker room if they so choose. 

Goodell also added that the on-field protests created a false perception that thousands of players were unpatriotic. 

Steelers NFLPA union player representative Ramon Foster had no objection to the ruling.

“When we’re talking about constitutional rights and stuff like that, that’s something that can get a little blended,” Foster said. “To say they’re wrong, I mean, weed is legal in certain states. But you can’t smoke it in the NFL.” 

At the NFL owners meeting, where the policy was passed, Steelers owner Art Rooney II commented publicly on the decision. 

“I think any form of protest is a form of protest," he told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "We didn’t define exactly what you have to be doing to be out there, but I think everybody understands what it means to be respectful during the anthem."

Rooney added that raising a fist or linking arms would constitute disrespect of the anthem in the eyes of the League, accoring to Birkett.

The anthem controversy hit the Steelers last year when, as a team, they decided to stay in the tunnel for the anthem before a game in Chicago. Pittsburgh left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former United State Army Ranger, stepped out in front of the team.

But Foster seems committed to not let it become a story this year.   

We’ll deal with it,” Foster added. "We’ll be one of those teams that will make it a non-issue, but if there is an issue, we’ll handle that too."

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