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NFL Owners Considering Major Penalty For Players Who Kneel During Anthem

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Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel during the U.S. national anthem, September 24, 2017. (CBS) Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel during the U.S. national anthem, September 24, 2017. (CBS)

After watching hundreds of players kneel during the 2017 season, it seems that the NFL is considering several options when it comes to the national anthem and one of those options could include a huge penalty for anyone who decides to kneel. 

According to Sports Illustrated, the NFL's owners are considering a two-part rule that would likely face some serous backlash if it were to be implemented. The first part of the rule isn't that controversial: The home team would get to decide if both teams stay in their locker room for the anthem or if both teams head out to the field. 

The second part of the rule is where some potential backlash might come in: If the two teams do stand on the field for the national anthem, then any player who decides to kneel would be penalized 15 yards. 

That rule would probably feel like a slap in the face to the dozens of players who have been kneeling during the anthem as a way to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Not to mention, it probably wouldn't be a good look for a league that's currently dealing with Colin Kaepernick's collusion case. 

One thing that's not clear about the proposed rule is how it would be enforced. Would a team get multiple penalties if multiple players kneeled? What if a home team chooses to stay in the locker room, but a visiting player wants to stand on the sideline? That's what happened with Alejandro Villanueva in September, and it's unclear if that would be a penalty. 

The problem for the NFL is that the league's 32 owners have been discussing the issue of the national anthem for more than seven months now and they still aren't on the same page, something that became even more evident on Tuesday. According to NewsDay, the owners spent most of their afternoon talking about a possible national anthem policy, but weren't able to come to a resolution. 

The bottom line is that the NFL is in a no-win situation: They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they implement a new rule, many will hate them for infringing on an individual's right to protest. On the other hand, if they don't implement a rule, they could lose fans who have made it clear that they're tired of seeing players "disrespect the flag."

Although it's still unclear how this might play out, the league's owners are apparently hoping to have a policy in place by the time the spring meeting ends on Wednesday. 

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