NFL may be rethinking controversial kneeling policy

Despite its decision on the protest gesture, the league is now holding back on implementing it.

New Orleans Saints players and team kneel prior to the NFL match between New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on October 1, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The concept of taking a knee may have gotten a reprieve.

The NFL is putting the brakes on its new policy to forbid players from kneeling during the national anthem, ESPN is reporting.

The practice was popularized by former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee at games to protest how police treat people of color in America. Kaepernick has found himself at the center of the controversy and is now without a contract, many say due to his activism.

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The league and its players association released a joint statement on Thursday saying, “No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks,” ESPN reported.

Both sides will continue to discuss the controversial issue over whether it is appropriate for players to kneel.

“The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice,” the statement continued. “Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.”

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The statement came after reports Thursday that the Miami Dolphins planned to punish players with suspensions of up to four games if they protest during the anthem.

In May, the NFL announced teams would be fined if players did not stand during the national anthem while they were on the field. The rule did, however, allow players to stay in the locker room during the song. Punishments were left up to individual teams.

Earlier in July, the players’ union challenged the policy in a grievance.

The league and the player’s union were prepared to announce a standstill on the issue but a Thursday announcement that the Miami Dolphins submitted paperwork that included potential disciplinary measures prompted both groups to move up the timing of their announcement, sources told ESPN.

Another source told ESPN that the Dolphins’ submission of disciplinary procedures was a routine, annual filing required of each team before training camp.

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