Amid rumors and rumblings on new policy for the national anthem, NFL owners have officially approved a new policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance of the national anthem, while giving them an option to remain in the locker room, league officials announced Wednesday.

The policy will revise the Game Operations Manual and is subject to impose fines to teams if a player or any team personnel do do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

It also allows each team to develop its own set of rules to discipline its personnel who do not stand for the flag and the anthem. A vote took place and the policy unanimously passed by the league's 32 owners.

 

A statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was also released:

The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.

It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.

This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.

We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it—and on our fans who enjoy it.

Previously, the policy stated that all players "should" stand. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem to protest policy brutality and it drew nationwide criticism from fans and even President Donald Trump, who all thought it was a sign of disrespect.

 

NFL owners have gone back-and-forth on the matter throughout the past two years. Some wanted to give a voice to the players, like New York Jets owner Christopher Johnson, while others preferred players stand, like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair.