Two Seattle players, Doug Baldwin and K.J. Wright, were among many around the league to question the new policy.
Two prominent Seahawks on Wednesday joined the rising chorus of NFL players who expressed dismay over the league’s new policy regarding the national anthem during separate local radio interviews.
The NFL ruled that players must “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem” if they’re on the field when the anthem is player. Players can stay in the locker room, if they wish. Teams can be subject to fines if players do not follow the policy.
Previously, the NFL had no set policy on the anthem and some players each of the last two seasons had taken to either kneeling or sitting.
“It’s crazy,’’ linebacker K.J. Wright said during an interview on 950 KJR with Jason Puckett and Mike Gastineau. “I believe that to keep everything nice and easy, players should just stay in the locker room. If they want to make such a big deal out of it, maybe guys as a team should just stay in the locker room. Do it how they did, I believe like 10 years ago, 15 years ago, players didn’t even come out for the anthem. I believe that the union is going to go back and forth with them and we should just all stay in the locker room.”
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The NFLPA, the players’ union, released a statement noting that players were not consulted before the NFL’s rule change — which was approved in a vote of owners on Wednesday — and that it would review the policy and potentially challenge any aspect it sees as a potential violation of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“I think we’ve got to get this issue resolved before the season so that everyone is on the same page,’’ Wright said. “We’ve got to figure out our game-plan before the season even starts and we’re going to go forward as a team so it doesn’t become an issue. And guys are going to respect each other’s decisions and we’re all going to be on one accord.”
In an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle on the Bob Groz and Tom show, receiver Doug Baldwin said he was not surprised but that “I’m disappointed’’ in the ruling saying “the NFL cares about one thing, and that’s the NFL, that’s the NFL’s bottom line. I may be privy to some different information because I’ve been in conversations with Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent and the leadership of the NFL in regards to the Players Coalition and what we’re trying to get out of that. So honestly, I’m not surprised. I’m disappointed.”
Baldwin called the ruling evidence of “a lack of understanding (of the players’ views) and to me this just further punctuates the tone deafness or the disconnect between the NFL and its players.’’
Baldwin also said the policy goes in line with what he characterized as lack of good faith in the league’s previous meetings with players about how the league could best support organizations and charities. Baldwin said the NFL wanted to support organizations that weren’t necessarily those that the players supported.
“It’s more of a PR move to me more than anything,’’ Baldwin said. “Not really trying to get to the gist of it.’’