Many speculated that the NFL was setting themselves up for failure with the way they handled players’ anthem policy without input from players. Those actions by the NFL didn’t sit well with the players and the players finally are striking back.

The NFL Players’ Association announced on Tuesday that it has filed a grievance on behalf of the players challenging the league’s controversial anthem policy, which was introduced in May.

“The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “In advance of our filing today, we proposed to the NFL to begin confidential discussions with the NFLPA Executive Committee to find a solution to this issue instead of immediately proceeding with litigation. The NFL has agreed to proceed with those discussions and we look forward to starting them soon.”

At the NFL owners’ spring meetings in Atlanta in May, the league voted unilaterally to approve a policy requiring players and team personnel to stand on the sidelines during the anthem, but those who wanted to protest — whatever their reasoning —would be able to stay in the locker room without reprisals.

Players who protested on the field would leave their teams subject to fines, but the players would not be directly held responsible. This is an important distinction because if the players were individually fined, the NFL would be vulnerable to a lawsuit from the NFLPA for violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The players protest debate was first sparked when quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the pre-game anthem in 2016 as a protest against racial injustice. But critics saw the protests as unpatriotic and disrespectful of the American flag and the US military.
The issue came to a head when President Donald Trump said in September 2017 that NFL owners should tell protesting players, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”

No one was left happy with the new rule, including President Trump. Now it will be up to a thirty party arbitrary to weight in between the NFL and the NFLPA.

It didn’t have to come to this but it’s good to see the NFLPA finally having their player’s back in such a strong manner.